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West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers develop breakthrough formula for the perfect cheese sandwich

The cheese sandwich - in all its guises - has long been a British favourite*. Now, thanks to Bristol University taste experts, West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers and the power of the internet, the quest for the perfect cheese sandwich is finally at an end.

The co-operative of farmers who produce authentic handmade Cheddar, in conjunction with the sensory analysis team at Bristol University, have uncovered a mathematical formula which reveals the perfect thickness of a slice of farmhouse Cheddar when used in conjunction with bread and popular accompaniments.

The formula, which includes nine algebraic variables, has been used to create an online calculator at www.cheddarometer.com. The calculator enables the world's cheese lovers and caterers to specify their choice of fillings and then works out the optimum quantities of each ingredient required to complement the complex flavour of the farmhouse Cheddar.

The formula is:
The formula for the perfect cheese sandwich

where W equals the thickness of Cheddar in millimetres, b the thickness of bread, d the dough flavour modifier, s the thickness of margarine or butter, m the thickness of mayonnaise, c the creaminess modifier, v the thickness of tomato, p the depth of pickle and l the thickness of the lettuce layer.

The formula is the result of research conducted by senior research fellow Geoff Nute** and colleagues at the university's Sensory & Consumer Group in the Division of Farm Animal Science**. Using human assessors and complex technological measuring devices, Geoff's team has successfully 'mapped' the flavour profile of hundreds of samples of Cheddar.

Geoff explains: "We used specially trained human taste testers to sample a range of Cheddar cheeses in a carefully controlled environment and combined results from these tests with instrumental data obtained using colorometers and pressure sensors to obtain precise measurements of variants such as yellowness, crumbliness, creaminess and tanginess.

"The results of our research have been extrapolated to produce a formula which takes into account modifying characteristics of individual cheeses and the ratio of popular fillings and achieves a mathematical balance of flavours in order to gauge the correct thickness of the Cheddar."

Philip Crawford, chairman of the West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group, adds: "We are very proud of our authentic farmhouse Cheddar which we make by hand on our farms using only milk from our own cows. This means each variety of West Country Farmhouse Cheddar has a unique character and we were fascinated to know which combinations of sandwich fillings work best with each cheese. Collaborating with Mr Nute and his team we have managed to create the Cheddarometer and reveal the blueprint to everyone's perfect cheese sandwich."

The West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers group is committed to educating the food loving public on all aspects of making, choosing and enjoying authentic handmade Cheddar. Last year it turned a traditional round of Cheddar into an internet sensation by attracting 1.8million visitors to www.cheddarvision.tv to watch the cheese mature live on the web over the course of 12 months.

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