Cheese lovers, it's time to rejoice. The Blaenafon Cheddar Company is all set to introduce a new 'underground' flavored cheese. Turns out, the company has been using the Big Pit mineshaft, an 11-mile cave system at Dan yr Ogof, South Wales, as a maturation chamber for some of its cheddars.
Since the temperatures in the caves and underground mines remain more or less constant throughout the year, this could be a great idea.
"Cave dwellers soon realized that caves had a constant natural internal temperature as they were cool places for them to go during the summer's heat, but had a warmish ambient and constant background temperature of 10°C in the winter," operator of the National Showcaves of Wales, Ashford Price, said.
The cheese company stored the cheeses around one-fourth of a mile underground, and soon after a 6-month trial storage period, a new Welsh 'cave cheese' taste may hit the markets soon.
According to Susan Fiander-Woodhouse, the managing director of the company, this new venture would prove to be a unique partnership between food and tourism, considering that the tourists would also be able to view the cheese containers and get a taste in the coffee shop.
Turns out, this is not the first time caves have been used to store food, or to help them mature; around 1600 years ago, cheeses were first left in caves to mature. The dampness of the caves is what allows the cheese to mature, and pick up that rustic flavor, Price claims.
"As the cheeses matured they picked up a unique underground flavor and texture," he explained.
What's more, this seems to be attracting more tourists and the cheese is popular among overseas visitors, Price added. "It is hoped this Welsh cave cheese will become one of the tastes of Wales for tourists to enjoy."