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Shepherds Purse relaunch their Yorkshire Fettle to help support the UK’s Sheep milk industry

I’ve always been a fan of Shepherds Purse cheeses, being a particular fan of their Yorkshire

Blue and Harrogate Blue cheeses.

Having recently bought a packet of their Yorkshire Fettle cheese to make a Greek salad ,I’d planned to blog about the cheese’s flexibility but as a dug a bit deeper I found out that there was a much bigger story to tell.

The cheese was originally called Yorkshire Feta and is a typical Greek style Feta cheese. But Greece were awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for their cheese in 2008 meaning Shepherds Purse had to change the name of their cheese to Yorkshire Feta.

The Mediterranean salad style cheese has always been made using whole ewe’s milk and each cheese is handmade and hand salted giving the cheese a lovely piquant, lemony flavour. The cheese is then matured over a minimum of two weeks to allow the salt to infuse into the cheese and help produce the slightly crumbly texture you would expect from a Feta.

Interestingly it was the first cheese produced by Judy Bell in 1989 when she set the company up with a mission to create dairy alternatives for cow’s milk allergy sufferers.

What I hadn’t been aware of was that since Covid-19, there had been huge problem with the UK’s sheep industry, with many suppliers under threat. With restaurants and pubs closed during lockdown, demand had fallen off the edge of a cliff. A number of sheep’s milk processors have been lost since March and Shepherds Purse have being doing everything they can to help support the industry.

One of their solutions has been to fast track the launch of their new Feta style cheese – now just called Fettle.

Sadly, 20 out of 22 Sheep’s milk processors have been lost in the last 6 months. Shepherds Purse are now just one of two left. They have tried to offer a lifeline to sheep milk farmers by increasing their weekly milk order by 75%. Shepherds Purse also brought forward the launch of their new format Fettle as well to try and increase demand.

Caroline Bell, MD of Shepherds Purse said, “From the beginning of the crisis, we have been acutely aware of our place in the food chain and our responsibility to support our suppliers and our customers as much as possible. We rely on them and they rely on us. Every change in the supply chain and every gap has significant knock-on effects.”

Simon Stott of Sheep Milk UK said, “Any help we can get at the moment is vital and this new Fettle product is a big lifeline for us”.

What they desperately need now is to get the cheese onto customers plates! Fortunately locally based supermarkets Morrisons and Booths are both now stocking the Fettle as well as a number of local shops.

I can highly recommend the cheese. It has won awards and was also used by Paul Hollywood one his BBC 1 cooking show Pies & Puds.

To help inspire you to try this, I thought I’d share with you the mouth-watering Greek salad I made with the Fettle recently.

It’s simple to make – just chop up a cucumber, green and orange pepper, red onion and tomatoes. Add black and green olives, a handful of oregano then a good slug of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. From here take a block of Fettle and chop into squares, add to the salad and mix.

It takes less than 10 minutes and not only looks great but tastes wonderful too. Why not go out and buy some and support the UK Sheep’s Milk industry and support one of Yorkshire’s great suppliers.

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