I cracked another Flory’s Truckle yesterday. The excitement, somehow, hasn’t waned with repetition.
Customers often giggle at the term “truckle,” and I encourage every kind of giggling for any reason at my cheese counter, but in case you’re curious, a “truckle” is a British term describing a large-format, cylindrical (we often say “barrel-shaped”) cheese. Essentially, it’s in the shape of three wheels of cheese stacked on top of each other. A truckle is almost always a cheddar made in the traditional clothbound or “bandaged” style. (I’ve also heard the term used for a few other similarly shaped cheeses like Blue Stilton or even a non-English cheese like Pecorino Romano.) The cloth (often muslin) bandaging around the cheddar is typically slathered in lard before sending the wheel to age in a cave or cheese cellar. This technique protects the cheese as it ages, while also imparting earthy flavors and collecting beautiful, natural molds on the rind. Unlike cheeses aged in vac-seal, a clothbound truckle can still breathe and interact with its environment while aging, producing much more complex flavors and a more profound sense of terroir.
Mongers sometimes refer to cheeses in this format as “Barrel 3,” which just means that it should be cut horizontally into three equal sections (and then wedged out for customers from there). With a clothbound cheddar truckle like this lovely Flory’s Truckle from Milton Creamery in Iowa, I first score the cloth 1/3 of the way from one of the flat edges, all the way around. Then I cut through with a wire. With the disk I’ve cut away, I remove the cloth, cut it in half, and cut one of the two halves into quarters. These quarters will be placed in the display case, from which I can cut tidy wedges to order. The other half is placed in backstock. The remaining two-thirds of the truckle is still bandaged on all but the top side, so I can wrap it and place it in backstock knowing that it will still be in great shape when I’m ready to cut another disk from it and remove the cloth.
A truckle is a great format for a small cheese counter like mine because it holds up so well over time and yet allows me to cut very neat, proportionate wedges for customers without fully cracking into the whole thing at once, thus preserving its shelf life.
I tried to upload a video, but was reminded that I’m a cheapskate whose cheapskate plan doesn’t allow posting of videos, but feel free to check out my Instagram account to witness the process in action.