12 Nov 2023
Jones’ Cheese Company – Producer Of The Month
1 Jun 2021
Mark Jones makes an award-winning creamy blue cheese called Tysul Blue. He has a wealth of experience having worked with the Carmarthenshire Cheese Company and Caws Cenarth, and is a food technologist at Food Centre Wales where he gives masterclasses in cheese production.
His first cheese, Tysul Blue, is wonderfully mellow and creamy and has picked up an impressive number of awards, including a Gold at the International Cheese Awards in Italy in October 2019.
We caught up with Mark to get an insider’s view on how this fine cheese is made.
Can you tell us what made you decide to make your own cheese?
I’d been working for other businesses making product on behalf of someone else and whilst working at the Food Centre I noticed a gap in the market for a blue cheese that will appeal to the non-blue cheese lovers, and a chance to create my own identity. It’s also a good feeling to have created something from scratch yourself…especially without any marketing and very little financial knowledge.
Where do you make your cheese and do you feel the location is significant in the quality of product that you make?
West Wales is an extremely fortunate place to be when wanting to start a dairy business…the milk in the region is some of the best in the UK in terms of characteristics that are needed when producing a high quality, consistent product.
Why did you decide to make a blue cheese?
I wanted to think a little outside the box when developing the recipe and target audience. Instead of the normal response of ‘it’s an acquired taste’ when first trying a blue cheese. I wanted something where the cheese is the main flavour with a hint of the blue mould, following.
How do you feel your experience at other cheese companies and Food Centre Wales have influenced your decisions when making your own cheese?
Yes, I owe a lot to the businesses I have worked for and that they have helped me understand the complexities of the cheese making process. However, it’s at the Food Centre where I really started to understand what can be done and expand my repertoire. Developing cheeses for other people is a pleasure…one day it could be a brie made from Channel Island milk, and Halloumi and Manchego the following day, with a local sheep farmer. The Food Centre has also been a springboard into the judging arena…seeing what else is out there has definitely had an impact.
What is your view on the current state of cheesemaking in Wales?
It’s thriving with many new businesses starting up…I wouldn’t say we’re competing against one and other but competing alongside, to build Welsh cheese as a brand that would be beneficial to all Welsh food industry and its supply chain. It’s the collaborative thinking that is needed.
Can you describe a typical day at Jones’ Cheese Company and talk us through your cheesemaking process?
Milk arrives around midday via Llaeth Cymreig, a west Wales milk cooperative, and is pasteurised immediately upon arrival. The cheesemaking process takes around 5 hours to get to the moulding stage before the cultures take over the hard work and develop slowly through the night, creating the flavour and characteristics that they were chosen for. Salting takes place in the morning, before the cheeses are once again put into an environment that’ll let the cheese develop its flavour over the following 4-5 weeks before sale.
How do you like to enjoy Tysul Blue and what drink might you pair it with?
Tysul Blue is not an overpowering cheese and struggles to stand up to a Port style drink as well as a stilton would…however I like to enjoy it with Tregroes Cheese Crackers and a nice cold IPA.
What’s next for Jones’ Cheese Company?
Who knows…the project started out as a hobby to prove to myself that I could create my own cheese, then I wanted to create my own brand, then I wanted to find my own customer base, fans and perhaps pick up the odd award ?…whilst I enjoy it, I will keep growing the business.