Irish consumers will have their first opportunity to sample the unique qualities of sheep’s milk when the renowned Tipperary cheesemakers behind the Crozier Blue brand host free tastings at the Sheridan’s Irish Food Festival.
Crozier Blue celebrates its 20th anniversary next year and is the only blue cheese in Ireland made from sheep’s milk. Now its makers, Jane and Louis Grubb, are bringing churns full of the sheep’s milk they use to the renowned food festival and are confident the exercise will spur more consumers to try Crozier Blue.
J&L Grubb established its better-known Cashel Blue cheese in 1984. Around the same time Jane and Louis Grubb’s nephew Henry Clifton Brown of Ballinamona Farm which overlooks the Rock of Cashel, set about establishing a flock of milking sheep. Nine years later, Crozier Blue was developed. The flock now numbers over 400 and is an attractive mix of black and white inquisitive sheep. To this day Crozier Blue is the only blue cheese made from sheep’s milk in Ireland.
The sheep’s milk will be sampled at Sheridans Cheesemongers’ third Irish food festival on Sunday, May 27, at its Virginia Road Station headquarters in Co Meath. Ireland’s top food producers will also be there to sell, sample and talk about their wonderful foods.
It’s the perfect time of year to try sheep’s milk, Jane and Louis Grubb’s daughter, Sarah Furno, explained. “This is a good time of the year to sample sheep’s milk for the first time. It has a lovely smooth, mild flavour right now, it is very approachable and lots different to goat’s milk which tends to be stronger.
“We got lots of our staff to try it, without telling them what it was. They really commended its smooth flavour. It’s the first time that the Irish public will have an opportunity to taste sheep’s milk and we’re confident it will also spur them to try our cheese,” she said.
As well as being smoother than other milk, sheep milk contains much higher levels of vitamins and minerals than any other type of milk. It helps in the development of strong bones, helps prevent osteoporosis. Sheep’s milk is better tolerated by individuals allergic to bovine dairy products. The Asthma Research Council, UK, and the Eczema Society recommend a change to sheep (and goat) products to aid the treatment of these and other related problems. Sheep’s milk is especially good as it is high in both calcium and zinc.
Crozier and Cashel Blue are both produced at Ireland’s largest farmhouse cheese-making dairy in the heart of county Tipperary. The €E6 million facility is located a stone’s throw from the farmhouse where Cashel Blue was originally created in 1982 by Louis and Jane Grubb.
The farmhouse cheese dairy and farm employs 25 local people and produces 250 tonnes of cheese per annum, making it the largest farmhouse cheese producer in Ireland and one of the biggest in the UK. The new dairy will allow the Grubb family to double production, it is anticipated that production will grow to 320 tonnes by the end of 2012.
Over 50 per cent of the cheese is exported, much of this to the UK and USA. Recently considerable interest has also been expressed in Cashel Blue on the established speciality cheese market of continental Europe namely in France, Italy and Germany.