Small maker is a big cheese

Award-winning cheesemaker Nathan Pratt
Award-winning cheesemaker Nathan Pratt

Library assistant Nathan Pratt has just beaten some of the biggest names in the business to a prestigious gold award at Bakewell Show – with cheese he makes in the cellar of his terrace home in Woodseats.

Nathan, who works at Longley Park College, is passionate about home crafts and has been baking bread and brewing his own beer for the last three years.

A desire to have more control over what he eats led to an interest in cheese. Ten months ago, he began experimenting and making his own, using milk from Our Cow Molly farm at Dungworth.

“I used pasteurised at first, but decided the only way to really produce something true to a traditional rustic farmhouse style was to use raw milk. This allows the changing seasons and character of the landscape to express itself in the flavour of the finished cheese. I wanted to know what a Sheffield cheese would taste like!” he says.

Over the months, Nathan has stuck with one type, researching old recipes and methods, and developing slight variations.

The result is Dungworth: a hard pressed cheese, similar to Cheddar, but aged for a shorter time and thus milder.

Cheeses are placed on wooden racks in the cellar of his home and left for three months to mature.

“It’s quite an involved process, but it’s fascinating to see how it evolves,” says Nathan, who turns them each day.

He entered the Bakewell Show class to test his cheese against established names: “It was purely for experience and the knowledge I’d gain from others. I didn’t expect to even come close – so I was absolutely shocked to win,” he admits.

Nathan beat top makers to take the Gold Medal for single hard pressed territorial cheese.

“At this stage I have no plans to branch out into business, but I’m really keen to develop my cheeses at home,” he says. Blue and smoked varieties are next on his list.