Chiswick Cheesemaker’s Grant: Tracey Longhurst

Tracey keeps it raw in her mission to produce natural Goat’s cheese.

Speaking from what used to be the Old Granary, at her farm near Guildford in Surrey, I had the pleasure of meeting Chiswick Grant Awardee, Tracey Longhurst, a self-taught maker of goats’ cheeses, and a staunch supporter of Natural Cheesemaking.

Tracey and her husband, Graham, have lived on their farm since 2009, setting up initially as a “hobby” farm, with their herd of English Goats, a critically endangered breed recognised by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, but always with the dream of making it a commercially successful goats cheese and kefir business.

Formerly in employment law, Tracey’s disillusionment with the corporate world grew and her desire to turn her family farm into a dairy took hold.  At the same time the world was entering the pandemic and redundancy ensued.  This gave Tracey the impetus to take her leap of faith with a “now or never” sentiment.  She has never looked back and now runs Wildcroft Dairy with Graham.

A Solid Foundation to Cheesemaking Knowledge

Tracey completed her Academy of Cheese Level One Associate Certification in January 2022, which covers the basics of milk production and cheesemaking, whilst supplementing her education with expert guidance from natural cheese legend, David Asher of The Black Sheep School.

The opportunity to kid her own herd of goats had never arisen and, having always preferred the idea of producing raw-milk cheese, she purchased some unpasteurised milk from a local source.  The result is the fresh, creamy yet crumbly Frowsbury Hill, named after the hill, located just 50 yards from their front gate, where Queen Victoria inspected her troops in 1858.

A real team-effort, with Graham taking care of the goats and their milking whilst Tracey makes the kefir and cheeses two to three times a week, they now produce four varieties of their soft fresh goats’ cheeses.  Alongside Frowsbury Hill, there is Pilgrims’ Bell, a smoked paprika variation; the garlic and herb Puttenham Oak, which is great in a jacket potato and finally their smoked Smokey Doe, which spread onto sourdough and topped with a poached egg is apparently to die for!

Tracey looks to the Academy of Cheese to extend her range of cheeses

In her mission to keep her cheeses “natural”, Tracey uses her own, freshly acidified, goats’ kefir instead of traditional DVI starter cultures, whilst adding kid rennet to keep the product as true to goat as possible.  Although the volatility of kefir as a starter has, on her own admission, led to some unfortunate results, which their pigs are more than happy about!  This is not a challenge that Tracey shies away from; in fact, it is this pursuit for consistency that motivated Tracey to apply for the Chiswick Cheese Market Cheesemaker’s Grant: she is hoping her mentor will offer advice to iron out these little faults. Another aspect of the grant Tracey is excited about is access to the Academy of Cheese’s suite of industry-recognised courses; she has already signed up for the Level Two with Cheesemaking course in July, which will certainly help her in her vision to extend her range to include a hard and washed-rind natural goats’ cheese.