our storyCheese making by the Stone family since the 1950's
it’s all about the cheese
Traditionally the Highlands was cattle country. Every small farm or croft had a house cow with which to supplement the tedious diet of mutton, neeps, tatties and road kill. Any spare milk was left by the range to stay warm after the cream had been ladled from the top to churn into butter. The natural cultures in the liquid would slowly eat the lactose and multiply throughout, souring it by releasing lactic acid. Eventually the milk would set and form a curd, a bit like yogurt. Then the curd would be scrambled like eggs and hung up in a pillow case or a muslin to drain the whey. Add some salt and you have the simplest preserved milk in the world – Crowdie.
Reggie and Susannah Stone ran their micro dairy with 14 Dairy Shorthorn cows and a vicious, depressive bull called Geordie who occasionally lifted the gate and set off into Tain for a little fun.
The cheese making all began by accident when Reggie complained that no one made Crowdie anymore, Susannah suggested she could and set about souring a 10 gallon churn of milk. However 10 gallons of milk became a stone of crowdie – a little more than Reggie had planned on.
Sussanah claims to be a direct descendant of Mariota de Ile, born in 1429 to the clan chieftain – The Macdonald of the Isles. Mariota was the first responsible for taking the cream and instead of churning it into butter, she matured it in barrels to create her ‘chieftans cheese’ – Caboc. At 75% butter fat, Caboc was something of a health hazard if over indulged but her father seemed pleased. Legend doesn’t reveal whether the chieftain died in battle or had a massive coronary after a feast of Caboc cheese but the Campbell clan later stole Mariota and she was forced to marry into the least trustworthy clan in Scotland.
With a strong cheese history running through the family, you can still find the Stone family firmly behind the reigns today. In 1994 Rory joined mum, Susannah, and his older brother in the family business of cheese-making, and has headed up the company ever since. Now the company is focused on mould ripened cheese with brie, blue and washed rind styles. The milk comes from three farms, Sibster just west of Wick, Thrumster with a herd of organic Jersey cows and Rootfield on the Black Isle which is converting to Ayrshire cows.
Our product range includes the traditional Crowdie, Black Crowdie, Caboc, Morangie and Highland Brie, Strathdon Blue, Blue Murder, Fat Cow and Minger.
Office opening times
8.30AM – 5PM
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE A WORKING FACTORY AND OUR CHEESES CAN ONLY BE PURCHASED FROM THIRD PARTY OUTLETS AT PRESENT
Mailing Address only
Highland Fine Cheeses Ltd
Shore Road, Tain