The first cheese made with Welsh sea salt has been launched in a unique partnership between iconic Anglesey brand Halen Môn and Wales’s oldest dairy co-operative South Caernarfon Creameries.
The new Sea Salt Cheddar made with 100% milk from Welsh cows at South Caernarfon creameries’ factory in Chwilog near Pwllheli, uses pure Halen Môn sea salt made by pumping seawater from the Menai Strait of Anglesey each day.
The first sea salt cheese to be made in Wales, it will sit as part of the Dragon brand’s new Handcrafted range, which is to be launched at the Taste of Wales international trade conference in Newport on March 20 and 21.
The luxury range of speciality cheeses produced under the Dragon label by South Caernarfon Creameries will also feature a cheddar aged in the Llechwedd slate caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog, and a speciality version made with Penderyn whisky.
The new Sea Salt Cheddar was created thanks to a major £13.5m investment in the South Caernarfon Creamery (SCC) cheesemaking plant on the Llŷn Peninsula.
This has allowed SCC to take a flexible approach to developing bespoke new cheeses using traditional open table cheesemaking techniques, which can be produced on a large scale to meet modern retail and consumer demands.
The new Sea Salt Cheddar has been in development for two years thanks to Linda Lewis Williams, new product development manager at South Caernarfon Creameries, and Halen Môn’s owners, husband and wife team Alison and David Lea-Wilson.
It is a marriage made in heaven, said Linda: “We have taken two iconic brands, both rooted in high quality Welsh provenance and created a cheese for Wales to truly be proud of.
“Salt has always been used in cheese as it is the ultimate preservative, it also brings out the depth of flavour in the cheese.
“We’re really excited about this partnership between SCC and Halen Môn, and to be able to launch it as part of our new Handcrafted range at Taste of Wales is the icing on the cake.”
Linda added: “The sea salt gives it a really lovely flavour. It’s not too strong but the salt brings out the flavour of the cheese.
“It is best eaten at room temperature, not straight out of the ‘fridge.”
Halen Môn sea salt is made 100% from the clean, clear seawaters of the Menai Strait and has EU Protected Designation of Origin status.
David Lea Wilson said: “Just as with a fine wine the quality depends on the terroir of the soil, the quality of the ingredients are what sets this cheese apart.
“We have harnessed the fantastic raw materials we have here in the clean seawater of the Menai Strait, and the milk from the cows fed by the lush grass of north and mid Wales.
“You can taste the minerals of the salt in the cheese and it is just a wonderful, delicious product.”
The cheese will be officially launched at The Taste of Wales event brings together the leading exponents of the food and drink industry in Wales, providing an opportunity for buyers and producers to develop new business.
It’s the latest in a range of innovations to be launched by SCC which last year celebrated its 80th anniversary.
SCC Managing Director Alan Wyn Jones said: “The handcrafted range is something we have been working on for some time, we wanted to provide a luxury range celebrating the provenance of some of our finest Welsh ingredients.
“This has been made possible thanks to the significant investment in our cheese making plant on the Llyn Peninsula, allowing us to create unique infusions and blends using traditional techniques but producing on a large scale for the retail market.
“The results are testament to the quality of the produce from our 128 farming members across north and mid Wales as well as the skill of our cheesemakers.
“We are delighted to be launching the range with the seasalt cheese in collaboration with Halen Môn. The two companies and brands are an excellent complement to each other.”
Alison Lea-Wilson added: “Everyone who has tasted the seasalt cheese loves it, without exception.
“This is a very proud Welsh collaboration and a partnership we hope to continue into the future.”