Whether you’re the kind of person who enjoys afternoon tea or not, it’s highly likely you’ve indulged in a scone or two in your time. On that scone you no doubt spread jam (probably strawberry or raspberry) and finished it off with a nice big dollop of cream. But this would have been no ordinary cream. Super thick, rich and incredibly indulgent, Cornish clotted cream has been delighting people in the South West since 500BC, when it’s thought Phoenician traders swapped the recipe for valuable Cornish tin.
For such an iconic product, clotted cream is a pretty simple thing to make. Cream is gently baked in an oven, allowing the richest, most flavourful part to slowly rise to the top and turn into a firm golden crust. Not only does this add a bit of texture, it also seals in the freshness of the cream below.
However, this ancient process has been an essential part of Cornwall’s rich food scene for centuries. We all have memories of either visiting the South West and trying Cornish clotted cream for the first time or discovering its incredible flavour and texture elsewhere in the UK, and the fact that it’s become arguably one of the most iconic foods of Britain is testament to what an historic, memorable and (most importantly) tasty thing Cornish clotted cream is.
The most famous clotted cream producer in the world is Rodda’s, a company that’s been going since 1890. Still owned by the Rodda family (Nicholas Rodda is the fifth generation owner of the business), Rodda’s Cornish clotted cream is produced on the same site in Redruth as it was back in the nineteenth century, made using local milk to the same recipe. It’s this local milk that Nicholas says is the secret to creating the yellow, golden crust; the cows graze on Cornish grass with a particularly high amount of beta-carotene in (the stuff that makes vegetables like carrots orange) which in turn affects the quality and colour of the milk.
Cornish clotted cream obviously holds incredibly close ties to the county, but Rodda’s is going the extra mile to make sure the farmers it sources its milk from get a good deal. The producer will soon be buying its milk direct from farmers in west Cornwall, ensuring more stable pricing and rewards paid for milk quality.