Cheesemaking for the Alvis family is more than a livelihood – it is a true passion. More evident here than in any other part of the business, this is where tradition meets the modern day.
By combining advanced machinery with old-fashioned techniques, Lye Cross Farm has grown with the times to create the perfect production chain.
Delivery and Pasteurising
The 1,200 dairy cows are milked twice a day. Their milk is brought a short distance to the state-of-the-art cheese dairy which handles a total of 45 million litres a year. We combine the 7 million litres from our herd with milk from other local farms, meaning we can produce 1,300 tonnes of organic and 3,200 tonnes of conventional Cheddar cheese every year.
Fresh rich milk is stored in six large silos. The milk is then pasteurised and passes into the four 18,000-litre stainless steel vats with steam jackets. Once this is complete it is mixed with a special ‘starter culture’ and non-GMO vegetarian rennet to begin its slow and careful transformation into cheese. An on-site laboratory with four staff ensures milk quality and high standards are closely monitored at all times.
Draining the Whey
The curds and whey are run off onto the cooling table then hand-stirred with large shovels to drain off the whey. The whey, packed full of vitamins, protein and minerals, makes an ideal nutritional feed for the farm’s cattle.
The next stage is the unique ‘Cheddaring’. This is when the curds are gently turned by hand until they begin to bind together and can be cut into slabs and stacked. This process further removes excess whey and develops the unique texture of Cheddar cheese. The Cheddar is then stacked in blocks and cut while it is still soft and knitting.
Milling and Salting
The blocks are then fed into a mill which cuts them into small pieces. This is stirred and mixed with salt which acts as a preservative.
The salted curd is pressed into blocks, then wrapped and boxed using special wooden slats, before being sent to the maturing warehouse to let nature do its work. Once the cheese has been graded and matured it is ready for market. It is cut, sliced or grated, ready for packing and boxing.
Lye Cross Farm has a modern packing facility where the cheese is finally wrapped, labelled and boxed for retail or trade.
Lye Cross Farm has invested in state-of-the-art labelling software and in-house printing to enable us to react quickly and very flexibly to any bespoke requests.
With conventional and organic products, as well as low salt organic and non-GMO, and long term partnerships with other producers, Lye Cross Farm has a unique and extensive range, with opportunities for own label products as well as the Lye Cross Farm brand. We are able to actively seek partners in new markets where we look for a long term approach to building mutually beneficial trading relationships.
From our pasture to your plate
From our pasture to your plate is the Alvis Family’s philosophy, ensuring sustainable and responsible farming today and into the future.
We do our utmost to ensure our business is based on good animal husbandry that is beneficial to the environment and wildlife. This means consumers not only enjoy a superb product but can feel satisfied with Lye Cross Farm’s sustainable background.
The milk from the cows is collected every day and delivered the short distance to our dairy.
A by-product of the cheese making process is a liquid that is drawn from the cheese called whey, which is full of nutrients ideal for feeding to our cattle.
The cattle happily eat the balanced diet we give them and in return produce wonderful fertiliser which we use on the fields.
The cows eat the grass in the Spring and Summer from our pastures, we store silage and hay for feeding during the Autumn and Winter.
“The entire production and packing process takes place at Lye Cross Farm, ensuring maximum quality control as well as a minimum carbon footprint.”
Peter Alvis Managing Director
Protected Designation of Origin
Cheddar cheese is made all over the world – but Lye Cross Farm’s is the real thing!
In order to qualify for the PDO you have to use some of your own milk, and all the milk must come from one of 4 counties – Somerset, Devon, Cornwall or Dorset. In the making of the cheese you have to ‘Cheddar’ the curds by hand. The Cheddar must then mature on the farm in the care of the farmer for a minimum of 9 months.
No expense is spared because quality counts. Every process is controlled and stringent health and safety rules are followed, to ensure a top-class product reaches the consumer.
The family are delighted to have received the Red Tractor Farm Assured Stamp of Approval. This is a recognised mark of quality that guarantees the food consumers buy is being produced to the highest standards possible.