cheese label

'The art of cheesemaking is about person, place, product and passion. The magic of cheese making is genius allied to geography.'

John McKenna, four times winner of the Glenfiddich Awards for food writing and broadcasting



Gubbeen Cheese Dairy by Giana Ferguson


At the Gubbeen Dairy we make effectively one cheese - Gubbeen. Like the Chateaux that produce just one wine from their land, our milk produces Gubbeen Cheese - the trick is what we do in the curing processes. Cheese vintages come from ageing plus the milk quality and the seasons.

The Gubbeen herd is out earlier than most Irish farms as we are influenced by the Gulf Stream bringing in warm winds and early grass. In the Summer our herd will be grazing the pasture and is out all night, coming home at 6.00 in the morning to be milked. During the winter weather the herd is in our main shed where they feed on silage produced here at Gubbeen with supplements of nuts that Tom chooses each year.

We are very grateful to Drinagh Co-Op who make efforts for us and our GM Free Policy to trace feeds that are GM Free.

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From a management point of view our Winter Shed also protects our land from the poaching of cattle feet on wet soil and of course holds the slurry in tanks stopping it from leaching into rivers and the sea during our rainy season.

So below is a list of the Gubbeen Cheeses that come from our farm, all made from our own herd's milk.

Size: We have 3 sizes, Large, Small and the Extra Matures

 * 400gs (average) * 1.4kg * 3.5Kg

Large Gubbeen with Washed Rinds are pinkish with a white bloom - this rind, or crust, is actually a triple layered bloom of different organisms. The first being yeasts which grow within 3 days of cheeses arriving in the curing rooms and having been inoculated with the micoseeds of the Gubbeen Flora.

Once the yeasts have arrived the brevibacterium linens will grow rapidly giving the rind a tan and a nutty scent, this is then encouraged with not only the salt and water washes, but the addition of white wine; it balances the pH of the rind, protects and encourages the flora - within 5 days there will be a top bloom of the oxygen loving white candidum - this micro-garden traffic influences the appearance, structure and flavour of Gubbeen as its root stock works through the body of the cheese softening and flavouring.

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Age: So our Cheeses can be bought young and lactic or matured and even Extra Matured.

At ten days the Gubbeen will have its characteristic nose of mushrooms, nuts, bog and forest floor, there is also for people with good noses a long after scent of butter or leucanostoc.

By four weeks this will have evened out and the body of the cheese will have softened and there is a good "bounce" to the texture, we would consider this to be Mature now, but there is always more …

With good monitoring of temperature and humidity we bring the Extra Mature on for another month - its body is deeper so the age works its way through and the rind culture moves through the paste, it is ideal by eight weeks and can deepen in flavour for another month with good care.

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Use by: One of the traps we fall into in the modern market is the Use-By system - putting an accurate date on the cheese, TRICKY!

To support the labelling laws for shops we suggest 60 days, from date of packing. When a customer buys a cheese with 60 days on its use-by guide it can be far from the case - at 60 days the cheese might just be coming into its best if it has been cared for by professional cheesemongers. Equally a cheese of one week old can be ruined by putting it in the Freezer!

Smoked Cheese

Size: We have 3 sizes, Large, Small and the Extra Matures

* 400gs (average) * 1.4kg  * 3.5Kg

We smoke our cheeses gently - it is very important to us that we make a cheese with Smoked Flavour. Not a Smoked Cheese with cheese flavour!

Our smoking system is the Pinney system; Pinney's of Orford taught our friend Chris Jepson how to smoke his salmon. He designed his smoke box from their clever and subtle design and when he finally retired he passed this skill on to Fingal. Our cheeses are now smoked here at the dairy in Gubbeen.

We wax the Smoked cheese in a black wax from Holland called Ceska; it keeps the smoke in and yet lets the cheeses breath as they mature.

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The Cheese Day at Gubbeen:

6.00 AM - Tom gets up and heads off to bring in the herd to milk

Derry arrives and the machine starts up, 125 cows take about 2 hours to milk, their calves to feed and the yards to open. Then breakfast!
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7.30 - Monica arrives and dairy work starts

Milk flows into the vats and the first checks are done on the milk for temperature and pH - pH is how we measure the milk acidity levels. The dairy is prepared for the day's work.
8.00 – The starter is added

The milk reaches the right temperature, we add starter cultures and the acidity starts to form, at the right moment we add the rennet and the curds start to set.

9.00 - Our second vat is now filling

The first vat has begun to set to the point where we test it carefully to see if it is ready to cut, opening the curd up slowly to let the whey bleed out.

 Milk flows into the vats

10.30 - Curds heated and stirred

By now we have a good cut going and the temperature and pH are continually checked to judge how long we need to heat the curds up for, the heaters are put on and the curds and whey slowly start to tighten and separate as the heat grows.

 The milk reaches the right temperature

11.00 - Acidity control

We remove some whey to slow down the acidity and preserve the texture of our cheese, the stirring and temperature must be very careful and gentle as the vat develops, the cheese maker's judgement is what decides these last minutes of heating.

 The cut starts

11.30 – Moulding

We are now nearing the time for moulding the first vat, the second vat is being set and the tables are piled up with the sterilised moulds that have been washed for the day’s cheese curd to be put in.

 pH and curd texture checked

12.00 - The critical moment of vatting

The first vat is ready to mould and the curds get lifted out into the moulds to drain on the tables. Turning the moulds straight away the new curds have already turned into a cheese - the curd drains on during the afternoon. They will be turned again many times to keep a good shape and help drainage.

 As the first vat is ready to mould

The Dairy is then carefully cleaned and tidied for the cheese to be made again the next day!

Through the night it is essential that the whey drains out of the curd in a good warm dairy to grow the acidity, the next morning they are tipped out of the moulds and into the brine baths - we are looking for a given measurement which tells us that the cheese is ready to go down to the curing rooms with a given texture and acidity, plus salt from the brine.  Then the curing begins…

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CAIS Irish Chese Awards 2017

Gubbeen won Gold and Best in Class for Washed Rind Cheeses All Milks


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