A silky, pliable texture and a light smoked flavour.
Gubbeen House is the home of Giana and
Tom Ferguson and is found on the blunt peninsula to the west of Schull.
The Fergusons have been farming there for five generations. Giana, who
is part Hungarian and who was brought up on a Spanish mountain, first
encountered cheese-making whilst at her uncle's house in France. After
marrying Tom and settling down in Schull she was inspired by the abundance
of milk to consider cheese-making. After studying at college she made
her first attempt in her kitchen, encouraged by Veronica Steele, maker
of Milleens cheese. Two decades later she is still making her cheese and
has built up a good reputation and a thriving enterprise.
Gubbeen is made from the milk of Fresian,
Guernsey, Simmenthal and the local but rare black Kerry cattle. The milk
used was at one time unpasteurised but now they have converted to pasteurising
the milk as have the majority of Irish cheese-makers. During maturation
the cheeses are regularly washed to prevent the growth a B.linens (a bacteria
encouraged in many cheeses since it produces lively flavours and aromas)
with a substance known as 'goo'. The cheeses are also regularly turned.
The whole cheese-making process is so time consuming that Giana has to
employ a team of ten to help her (a high number for such a small operation
but with employment scarce in that part of Ireland Giana considers her
social role as important as the potential financial gain).
Some of the cheeses made are sent to the
smoke-house. They are oak-smoked for a short time giving them a light
smoky flavour through which the original flavour of the cheese is able
to penetrate. The cheeses are then coated with a thin yellow wax and allowed
to mature for three months.
Each cheese is 15cm in diameter, 5cm in
height, weighs 900g and has a fat content of 48%. The cheese is also available
as a mini-truckle weighing 400g.