Cheese Triers (also called Cheese Testers or Cheese Samplers or Cheese Irons or Cheese Palers) were used to test a whole cheese, or block of butter, to determine the degree of ripeness.
The tool was pushed into the whole cheese to take a plug out, which would be graded for texture, taste and smell, then replaced in the cheese.
Thomas Hislop ran his business from Mary Ann Cottage, Broughton Place, Edinburgh, and styled himself "the manufacturer of the celebrated cheese and butter palers”. Thomas died in 1897, and Herbert & Sons bought the goodwill, plant & stock from his widow.
These delicately forged tools required great craftsmanship in their making, so production was moved to London where the skills used in our cutlery manufacture were employed. We continued to supply them until shortly after WW2.
Over 30 different sizes and patterns were manufactured. Special patterns were made for Stilton, Gorgonzola, Parmesan and Dutch cheese, as well as ivory butter tasters and cheese smellers. Leather cases in cow-hide and pigskin were also provided.
We have four examples in our collection shown in the photograph:
- Left – 16 inch forged blade, stamped ‘A.J. Phippen Ltd', with leather case
- Top Centre – 6 inch forged blade, with leather case, kindly donated in 2013 by Steve Grizzell from Hove
- Top Right – 4½ inch forged blade, with leather case
- Bottom centre – 5 inch riveted blade
Two pages from a 1905 Catalogue, and one from a 1911 Catalogue are also shown on the right.
For an explanation of how to use a cheese trier, click here to see the "i" newspaper Essential Daily Briefing from October 2016.
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