We have now found a reliable supplier of quality, unpasteurised milk(which just happens to be from Jersey cows) so we can start to offer cheesemaking days at Trout Cottage.
I have been making cheese since 2009 when it became a part of my food safety degree. Since then I have worked in very different dairies producing very different products from very different raw materials. I have seen the highly regulated, vacuum packed stuff bound for huge supermarkets and I have worked with raw ingredients straight from the farm and sold to local shops. I have my favourites…
But on this small scale we can give you a taste of what you can produce in your own kitchen with just a few specialist bits of kit and hopefully dispel some of the mysteries surrounding this age-old foodstuff.
My friend Ann came to join me for the event and added that essential pair of hands for the photos and requisite “ooohs” and “ahhhs” in the right places. So a big thank you to Ann for her help with this.
Some processes you just can’t scrimp on and cleanliness is one of them. There are bacteria throughout the environment-all vying with each other for resources so if you start with a heavy load of unwanted bacteria your desirable organisms are going to struggle.
Sterilise everything. You don’t need proprietary sterilier-dilute some bleach then make sure you rinse it off well before you start.
John’s Jerseys from Ledbury (johnsjerseys.co.uk) are my supplier of choice. The raw milk you can buy here is something of a rarity but worth its weight in gold. It will already have a high count of bacteria necessary for the fermentation process and will lend more depth and character to the finished cheese. Pasteurised milk from the supermarket will still work but you will need to add other ingredients to counter the processing it has undergone.
Another gem in my battery of suppliers has been Goat Nutrition Products(gnltd.co.uk). They can supply small quantities of a huge range of cultures and rennet for domestic cheese makers and they are extremely helpful.
Very briefly the process of cheese making comprises certain key stages:
- Ripening the milk
- Cutting the curds
- Cooking the curds
- Draining, shaping and pressing
- Ageing (aka affinage)
It was certainly an interesting day-made more so by the fact that I was expecting a 10% recovery from my 9 litres of milk (as I had experienced with pastuerised milk)but John’s milk came up trumps and we ended up with far too much curd for my one little mold and had to bring in my second, much larger mold which somewhat dwarfed the cheese. A very steep learning curve!
The final challenge is finding the correct environment for ageing my cheese. I have improvised with an old freezer in the garage, some ice packs and a water bath.
Our first cheese to try, coming from Wales as we now do, is Caerphilly.
Hope to be testing the cheese in 2-6 months’ time.
We’re hoping to try some more varieties in the coming months.
If you would like to book a days’ cheese making at Trout Cottage then do contact us. The price per person is £80 including your cheese. Ageing and collection to be discussed.
And next…….the whey!