Modern tub of Crowdie with oatcakes. Via clairofmountgrove

At one time it was common for crofters to keep three or four cows although latterly as breeding produced better milkers, the tendency was to just keep one. The cow provided valuable milk all year round and often allowed crofters to provide excess milk to their neighbours without charge. When eventually the keeping of a cow died off and milk was imported from the mainland to meet demand, the custom of not charging for milk was a hard one to break!

The milk taken from the cow never went to waste and when even it went thick and sour it was often made into a cheese called Crowdie or Gruth in Gaelic.

The thick and soured milk was put into a large put and hung over a slow fire keeping the pot just warm enough. After a while the Crowdie would gather on the top as curds while the whey fell to the bottom. It was then lifted out by hand and squeezed to remove any remaining whey, formed into shape and perhaps salted or a little cream added to taste. Depending how much you squeezed would determine how dry the crowdie cheese would be. This solid mass was then left a while to become a cheese and it soon developed a thin grey rind as it became ready to eat.

Crowdie is delicious, with a creamy, tangy flavour and soft consistency it is delicious on oatcakes. My local Somerfield sells it in small tubs as shown in the photo above so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to track down.