British substitutes for French and Swiss melting cheeses such as raclette, Gruyère, Comté, or L’Etivaz
Britain has some of the best cheese in the world, and now that cheese is struggling to find a market. If this cheese is as good as, if not better, than its foreign counterparts, the least we British can do is to support our native cheese industry, as well as the environment, by buying locally. If you try some of these alternatives you are certainly in for a treat.
Not surprisingly (bearing in mind proximity… latitude, soil similarities etc) it’s with the French cheeses that the British cheeses compete particularly well. But the French have the advantage of a start of centuries. From a marketing point of view the brands have become almost synonymous with the type. In the case of melting cheeses, Gruyère, in particular, is a term used in recipes as being synonymous with ‘melting cheese’.
In this post we’re looking at the British alternatives to the French and Swiss melting cheeses, What’s available locally that will fit the bill every bit as well?
Ogleshield is a brine-washed cheese created by Jamie Montgomery (of Montgomery Cheddar), made by cheesemaker, Tim Griffery, with a sweet, milky scent. It’s washed in a special brine every three days, and this gives a pungent moist rind, and extra depth of flavour to the cheese. Similar to raclette.
Cornish Kern was voted Best Cheese In The World in 2017. I have tasted it – it’s pretty good, but to my mind not up there with the blue cheese greats…. Stichelton and Gorgonzola. But for this purpose it is excellent…although the Ogleshield might work just a tad better. Buttery, caramel notes, it takes 16 months to mature. A very good alternative to a Comté.
Bermondsey Hard Pressed
Bermondsey Hard Pressed is actually made in a copper vat imported from Switzerland, where the cheesemaker, Bill Oglethorpe, learnt his trade. Bermondsey Hard Pressed has the grassy nuttiness of a L’Etivaz. I asked Bill about the name, and he told me,
“I chose the name because its made in Bermondsey and is from the family of hard pressed cheeses. On top of that Bermondsey has a history of being hard pressed , so it all fits together. It’s made with raw milk which is important to me because it expresses the natural qualities of the milk. It takes around 12 to 18 months for those qualities to become apparent . I pick up the milk myself from Commonwork Organics near Sevenoaks at 5.30am when they start milking so I can get it warm from the cow and am able to get back into Bermondsey before the rush hour traffic at 8am.”
If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is….. it certainly comes out in the quality and flavour.
Lincolnshire Poacher Double Barrelled
Lincolnshire Poacher Double Barrelled is made from unpasteurised milk, and is matured for between two to three years. According to Patricia Michelson, the cheesemonger at La Fromagerie, “it has a stunning, savoury richness – like a cross between cheddar and an aged Gruyère.”
You can read more about Lincolnshire Poacher cheese by following this link.
Summer Field Alpine
Summer Field Alpine has a nutty, butterscotch taste. Not much is made, and it’s quite hard to get hold of. It’s made in Yorkshire, not very alpine, but to a German alpine recipe for Berg Käse, by Alastair Pearson at Botton Creamery. It works well, he says, as a vegetarian Gruyère. The creamery is part of a village trust which supports people with learning disabilities and autism.
To read more about Comté, follow this link.