New Cheese Making Course Dates March – May 2014

1 day enthusiasts course: cost £150, minimum 3 people, max 5

Thursday 13th March 2014 using cow or goat  milk – please let us know

Thursday 27th March 2014 using cow or goat  milk – please let us know

Tuesday 1st April 2014 cow milk only

Thursday 10th April 2014 using cow or goat  milk – please let us know

Thursday 1st May 2014 using cow or goat  milk – please let us know

Tuesday 13th May 2014 cow milk only

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of cheese if you fancy it.  We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.

We should finish at about 2.30pm.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

2 Day Commercial Course: cost £450, minimum 2 people, maximum 4

Thursday and Friday 13th and 14th March 2014

Thursday and Friday 27th and 28th March 2014

Thursday and Friday 10th and 11th April 2014

Thursday and Friday 1st and 2nd May 2014

Thursday and Friday 22nd and 23rd May 2014

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £375 +VAT = £450 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  The first day is as the one cheese making class.  The second day is geared towards the activities you need to consider to make cheese commercially, from what to make, how much, how often, equipment needed, financial costings, where to sell, the legalities and so on.  The course is tailored to your needs and is completely flexible but very intense.

We should finish at about 2.30pm on day 1 and about 3-4pm on the second day, which is very intense.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

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Miscellaneous Facts about Goat Milk and Ribblesdale Cheese Production

Yorkshire Goat Gouda

Our best selling Superior Goat Gouda

Almost 90% of our sales are goat cheese.  We process around 3,800 litres each week and make Superior Goat Gouda, Original Goat, Matured Natural Rinded Goat, Goat curd and two smoked varieties from our small smoker: Smoked Superior Goat and Smoked Original Goat.  That makes 6 core goat cheeses from Ribblesdale Cheese.  Sometimes we make an unpasteurised goat cheese and sometimes we put cranberry in to the Original Goat.

Our best seller is the Superior Goat Gouda, followed by our Original Goat.  They are two very different cheeses, the

Ribblesdale Original Goat

Ribblesdale Original Goat

former being a gouda, so a dense, creamy, smooth paste with a slight tang and the Original Goat is made in a Wensleydale style: mild, crumbly and creamy.

Our new goat curd is going from strength to strength and if it continues selling as it is, it will soon account for about 7% of our

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of Goat Curd

sales.

Q: Why is goat milk white?

A: When we run cheese making classes, after we have finished and washed down, we have started doing a little cheese tasting.

Only afterwards do I point out that all of the goat cheeses are white.  This is because goat milk lacks beta carotene, the yellow/orange pigment that imparts rich golden tones in most cheese, particularly those made with cow milk.  A goat converts beta carotene into Vitamin A, which lacks color and that is why goat milk and cheese is white.  Grass is rich in the antioxidant vitamin beta-carotene, so you tend to find that the milk from grass fed dairy cows result in the deepest yellow cheeses; the buttery yellow colors in cheese develop over time, so while a fresh cow milk cheese may be nearly as white as a fresh goat cheese, the differences in color tone will be much more apparent in aged cheeses. 

Q: How much milk does a goat give?

A: Typically, a goat will provide about 2-3 litres of milk a day.  Compare this to a cow which can give between 15-25 litres of milk a day and you start to understand why goat milk is more expensive than cow’s milk – about twice the price per litre, but interestingly, our goat cheese does not cost twice as much as most cow’s cheese.  Something wrong there…..

Q: I am lactose intolerant, can I drink goat milk?

A: If you are lactose intolerant and unable to drink cow’s milk, it is worth trying goat’s milk.  Goat’s milk contains less lactose than cow’s milk and is often recommended if you are allergic to cow’s milk.  Your allergy is probably caused by a protein found in cow milk called alpha S1 casein protein.  Both human milk and goat milk lacks this protein.

Q: How long can a goat live for?

A: Up to about 12 years.  They are clever and inquisitive creatures, with far more character than say a sheep.  They like to live together in families with a routine and are usually housed in large barns, bedded on straw with plenty of light and air and space to jump around.

Q: What is the gestation period of a goat?

A: 5 months

Q: What kind of goats are there?

A: The most popular breed of dairy goats in the world is the Saanen, derived from goats that originated in the Saanen valley in Switzerland.  The milk from this breed of goat is very similar to that from Friesland cows in terms of solids, i.e. butterfat and protein content.   Saanen milk is white and has a creamy texture, and tastes a little sweeter than cow’s milk.  Other breeds of goats include British Alpines, Toggenburgs, also from the Swiss Alps and floppy eared Nubians which give high solids.  The British Toggenburg occurs when a Toggenburg is crossed with any other of the Swiss breeds.

Other strange facts about why goat milk is good for you

  • Goat’s milk is more similar to human breast milk than any other food
  • More people around the world drink goat milk than any other milk
  • Goat milk also has a higher content of riboflavin (vitamin B2,) than cow milk. Riboflavin, metabolises other minerals such as proteins and carbohydrates and  strengthens your immune system by stimulating the production of antibodies
  • Goat milk contains more protein and calcium than cow milk

 

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A Long Ribblesdale Cheese Two Week Catch Up

Two sheep makes being put away in the cold room where they will mature for 12 months

Two sheep makes being put away in the cold room where they will mature for 12 months

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so lots to report.  Today, we are making the third of our four sheep cheese makes.  January was predictably a quiet month and so far, February has picked up a fair bit – time will tell, I don’t want to get too excited!

The quest for transparent pots to put our goat curd in has finally come to fruition and we received a delivery yesterday, but my goodness, I had to pester the company I bought them from because despite the fact they were the only people to send out a sample, they didn’t appear to want to make the sale.  The other ten or so pot makers I contacted just did not bother to reply to my inquiry for 1,500 pots: weird.

Snow outside our unit at 5.30pm Tuesday 11th Feb 2014

Snow outside our unit at 5.30pm Tuesday 11th Feb 2014

Snow!  There is no 2014 winner of the snow book.  It officially snowed here on Tuesday 11th Feb.  I shall do a dedicated blog post about the 2014 snow book.

We had our annual visit from the bank manager, Wayne, who came and went.  I read somewhere that Google was more trusted than banks.  No surprise there.  Personally, I think it is only a matter of time before our high street banks become obsolete or at least have to radically change their practices and start to compete (really??) and offer service and value for money.  If you think about it, all a person or business really needs is a current account to receive money in and make payments out of.  Why can’t we all shop around for current accounts, loans, mortgages, savings deals?  I don’t see why anyone, be it Google, Amazon, Coca Cola et al couldn’t offer better, more competitive current accounts, taking into account better rates from different jurisdictions and associated financial products for individuals and businesses to pick and choose the best deal from, much like any other service or commodity we use;  I do not go to the same supermarket all the time, why should I use the same bank for everything?  UK supermarkets have made

My very hairy journey home on Tuesday evening.  We don't get gritters or snow ploughs up my way

My very hairy journey home on Tuesday evening in a snow storm. We don’t get gritters or snow ploughs up my way

a bit of an attempt, but I see it changing much more in terms of new more trusted entrants offering a more innovative and flexible range of financial products and a change in customer habit – consumers being encouraged to cherry pick the best deals (and switch) and having choice to use several ‘banks’.  Here is hoping!

The award competition season seem to start earlier and earlier.  This week, I received notification that we should enter our cheeses in to the Great Taste Awards – five months before judging – and have a 2 week window during which each cheese entry costs £31 + VAT as opposed to £41.  I am in two minds about this – £31 to enter one cheese in a competition is to my mind, really expensive.  We have been lucky enough to win awards in the past and whilst I would love to say it results in additional sales – it does not.  It adds to our credibility, that we can and do make fabulous, award winning cheese, but if you are thinking of entering a few cheeses, it becomes really expensive and one wonders about the benefits.  We usually enter three competitions: The Great Taste Awards, Nantwich and the British Cheese Awards.  I have given up on the Yorkshire Show as I don’t think we stand a chance – say no more.

I am still no closer to working out how to program our new scales.  I have left two messages now with Avery Berkel who show no sign of getting back to me.  The manual is utterly incomprehensible.  How stupid do I feel that we have scales that we do not know how to use?  Very.  Anyone who uses commercial scales that spit out weight tickets will know how frustrating programming scales can be.  Talking of weight ticket labels, I have been having ongoing discussions with our label printing company who took over from Clearprint in Lancashire after it closed (we miss you, Elaine!) about 50,000 weight ticket labels that do not work in our scales.  Eventually, I sent them all back and reached an amicable agreement with the printers who finally agreed to give us a refund, though come to think of it, that has not arrived either.  Sometimes I feel that I spend a disproportionate amount of time chasing people up just to get something happening, like the customer who, according to Sage, take on average 153 days to pay us, so I sent a reminder e-mail (and have left two telephone messages) to the business owner and the accounts dept five days ago and have not heard a thing, let alone received payment.

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

Me and Stu with our Superior Goat: Yorkshire Gouda

The scales issue is becoming very irritating as it would solve receiving rude and unnecessary e-mails like the one I received on Sunday evening from a man who signed his name with an ‘F’ in between his first and last name and managed to use the word ‘disappointing’ about 8 times.  He left an exceptionally rude tirade on this blog (I receive an e-mail copy) about how he bought some of our Superior Goat Gouda, as it was promoted as being a British made cheese, during British cheese week, which readers of this blog know we started to make ourselves about two years ago, making it not just British but Yorkshire!  He left this message, saying that our Superior Goat Gouda was Dutch on the blog, but did not bother to search for it on the blog, if he had, he would have seen pictures of us making it.  Because we cannot change our scales, unfortunately, the weight ticket says, in very small writing, that it is made in Holland.  It was, but no longer is – we make this.  And that is why we put a ‘we Make This’ sticker on the front of the pack, but this man seemed to be on a mission to be as unpleasant as possible on the blog.  I trashed his blog comment and replied as graciously as I could muster at 11pm on Sunday evening and pointed out the truth and invited him to come and make Superior Goat Gouda with us.  As is always the way, he did not have the courtesy to reply.

And still on the subject of labelling, I received an e-mail from a customer asking us to confirm that we complied with EU Regulation 1169/2011.  I had to admit that we did not, but did not want to say only because I don’t know how to program the wretched scales and Avery Berkel sneer at me when I ask for help and don’t get back to me.  I did send the tech spec document which contains all the data anyway; we have all the nutritional information that we need to disclose, courtesy of Rosie at York Uni.  Hopefully I will sort out the scales before December 15th 2014 when this piece of legislation comes into force.

One of Hackfall's goats

Milking goats

For the first time ever in the history of us making cheese, our regular Tuesday delivery  of goat milk arrived but then had to be sucked back up again at the end of the day due to an antibiotic failure.  Just goes to show that product recall systems really do work.  It was a bit of a shock, but thank goodness we found out before Wednesday when we would have processed half of it.  Antibiotics would have destroyed the starter which means the milk would not become acidified which in turn means we would not have been able to make cheese – in case anyone wondered.  This really threw our week, last week and Stu and I could not get used to the days as we did not make goat cheese on Wednesday or Thursday, it was weird.  Andrew came in on Wednesday and with Stu gave the three maturing rooms a complete deep clean over two days.  Wow, they really look spotless now.

My working week is slowly starting to change.  I mutter darkly from time to time about not being able to get out and about and see customers or develop new business because there is always too much to do, nearly all computer/ paperwork which I hate.  That, combined with bloody annoying arthritis in my fingers which makes

Newly waxed Smoked Superior Goat Cheese

Newly waxed Smoked Superior Goat Cheese – we not only MAKE this cheese ourselves, we also smoke it ourselves too

waxing very painful and difficult and slow – I have lost my ability to grip – the fact that I drop keys, teaspoons, lids, pens, (cheese), can’t do up buttons finally made me decide to take on some help with our weekly Tuesday mad waxing sessions which relieves me of my waxing duties and frees me up one day a week which I hope to use to get out and about, which I enjoy!  As a result, I have managed to see three new potential customers, two of whom have already placed orders which is far more satisfying than not being able to wax cheese.

I have applied for a grant to help us do some PR and marketing work with a mentor.  We have chosen Yorkshire based Annie Stirk who is a bit of a food PR and marketing guru to help us and the grant is called the Growth Accelerator.  Before anyone asks, no, you can’t use it for capex.  It involves meeting up with a coordinator, answering 100 questions on-line and costs £600 plus a lot more VAT and can be used to employ a consultant to help you fill in gaps in your business knowledge and capabilities.

Little pillows of Goat Curd

Little pillows of  250g shrink wrapped Goat Curd

Another little initiative I have got going is that I am planning a bit of NPD and have been working with a very helpful chap called Ken who is very kindly going to let me have some starters for me to play with.  We’ve even been talking lipase.  I am hoping to trial about 4-5 new cheeses and if I can get one of them right, I shall be a happy bunny; it will take time.  I am really looking forward to developing (making up!) some new recipes, I enjoy that.  It will be um…interesting!  I tend to think that making the cheese is the relatively straight forward part, it is the maturation and keeping the cheese that can be tricky.  But we will see.  My last bit of NPD was our goat curd back last summer and I am really pleased with the take up of that.  Watch this space!

I think it is about time that we started to sell cheese on our website/blog.  This is something I have wanted to do for a while, but as always, it is a question of time.  I have started investigating making this blog into a proper website and adding an e-commerce platform.  It is a fair bit of work but I have started investigating how to do it, so once again, we will see how it pans out.

I think I mentioned a while back that we had a media company come and do some filming with us.  They have made a 90 second webtease for us and here it is.  It shows me at the height of my podginess, Stu stirring the vat and Andrew polishing cheese but it is a really good bit of filming, even if I say it myself.  Thank you to Simon and his team and  also customer Country Harvest for letting us film there.

We had a great five person cheese making class two Mondays ago and everyone had a lot of fun, but more importantly, I am hoping that we have given enough knowledge and confidence to our attendees to make good and safe cheese at home.  Two of our class were already fairly experienced and both said it was good for them to compare their makes with everyone else’s and our main big vat as it gave them the experience to be able to judge acidity development, which is really good.

We still have places left on Monday 17th one day course, if you are interested, please-mail Iona at: ionahill@gmail.com and we have room on our first two day commercial cheese making class on Thursday and Friday 20th and 21st Feb.

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Westphalia 40:40 rotary milking parlour for sale

A friend of mine has a Westfellia 40:40 rotary milking parlour for sale that has been used for milking goats.

If anyone is interested, please drop me an e-mail: ionahill@gmail.com

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First Sheep Make of 2014 Part 2

Letting the whey off and seeing the curd mountain

Letting the whey off and seeing the curd mountain

After a while of stirring, Stu let the whey off.  This is one of my favourite parts of cheese making, seeing the mountain of curd at one end of the vat as the whey runs off.  After the whey is run off, Andrew starts to help after his cheese polishing or pot washing duties and between them they cut the curd into gargantuan blocks and slide them down the vat.

When all the blocks are cut and positioned separately down the vat, they are turned over to help expel more whey.

Cutting the curd into blocks

Cutting the curd into blocks

When the acidity has reached a certain level, the blocks are then cut into cubes and shovelled to expel more whey as the acidity gathers pace.

One of my mantras when taking cheese making classes is telling our attendees that cheese making is all about time, temperature and acidity.  After a while, when the acidity has reached the right level, which should hopefully coincide with the right

Turning the blocks

Turning the blocks

amount of whey being released, the curd is salted and then it is milled.

Once the curd is milled, Stu and Andrew pot the curd up in the vat which involves putting curd straight into the pot and

Cutting the blocks into cubes

Cutting the blocks into cubes by hand

transferring the pots to the curd table, piling them three high, allowing them to rest a little.  Then we turn the pots upside down and empty the set curd on to a blue cheese cloth, wrap it up and place it back in the pot and then back in the press.

Then comes the cleaning down.  As sheep’s milk has a high amount of fat, cleaning the vat can be quite a task if it is left

Shovelling what is about 270kgs of curd

Shovelling what is about 270kgs of curd through the peg mill

for too long or if it is very hot in our dairy – no chance of that today!

The cheese will stay in the press until Monday when we will pot out: take the cheese out of the pots, take the cheese cloth off to be washed and vac pack the cheese, to be stored in the cold

Potting up

Potting up

room.

We made 126 pots, which at a guess will give us about 270kgs and a yield of about 18%, which is pretty darn good!

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First Sheep Make of 2014 Part 1

Andrew, our favourite milk delivery driver dropped off 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk with us yesterday.  It is always nice to see Andrew – it has been almost a year.  He is in

Pasteurised milk going in to the vat through the swinging arm

Pasteurised milk going in to the vat through the swinging arm

good health and continues to go to his dancing dos.  It was nice to see him and I swear, he does not look a day older.

So, this morning, Stu pasteurised 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk and added the starter culture at around 9am and ripened for an hour.  He renneted at 10am and cut at about 10.30am.  Sheep’s milk is always sets quickly.  It always amazes us at how thick, creamy and rich ewe’s milk is, compared to goat or cow.  It does handle differently, though I think cow and goat milk are pretty similar in the way they behave; cow’s milk is slightly thicker and creamier, on account of having higher solids, particularly fat, but they handle in a very similar way to my mind.

A filched picture of Simon Stott's milking parlour

A filched picture of Simon Stott’s milking parlour

We are lucky to have such a good source of ewe’s milk, from Simon Stott’s SMUK, based in Chipping, in Lancashire.  All of the cheese makers close to us in Yorkshire who process ewe’s milk use Simon’s milk, e.g. Shepherd’s Purse and Wensleydale Dairy and all of our Lancashire cheese making friends such as Carron Lodge, Greenfields, Chris Sandham, Butlers and Singletons.  I am quite proud of our association: Ribblesdale Cheese, my uncle before me, have been dealing with Simon and

Stu cutting the curd

Stu cutting the curd

his father before him, for at least 20 years.

Andrew has arrived, at 11am and is washing Wednesday’s Superior Goat Gouda make pots which Stu vac packed this morning and I weighed.  Andrew will help

The curd cutter, which is heavy, standing upright in 1,500 litres of sheep's milk

The curd cutter, which is heavy, standing upright in 1,500 litres of sheep’s milk

Stu after the whey has been taken off.  Stu is now in stirring mode.  The shovel can stand upright as there is so much curd in the vat.  I would expect a yield of around 17% for this make, which should make around 120 pots or so.

In Part 2, I will show us taking the whey off, blocking and potting up when I will also give Stu and Andrew a hand.  We had to make two batches of Superior Goat Gouda this week because we do not have enough space in the press!  Such is

The curd after being stirred

The curd after being stirred

life.

At 11.30am, it is snowing outside, but not yet settling here, by our front door, so there is still no winner to the snow book!

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Cheese Making Classes 2 x One Day and 1 x Commercial Day in February 2014

One day Cheese Making Course 3rd February and 17th February

It is a little bit short notice, but we are running a one day home enthusiast cheese making course on Monday 3rd Feb and Monday 17th February.

We will be making a cow’s milk Wensleydale.  We need a minimum of three people, maximum four or five.

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £125 +VAT = £150 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.  During the day, we will discuss the science behind cheese making, the various steps to hard cheese making, answer any questions you may have and you will be able to help make a larger vat of Wensleydale if you fancy it.  We hope to give you enough knowledge and confidence to make decent cheese safely at home.

We should finish at about 2.30pm.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

Two Day Commercial Thursday 20th February & Friday 21st February 2014

We will be making a goat milk Wensleydale.  We need a minimum of three people, maximum four.

Start time is 8.15am, bring clean shoes or wellies and a notebook if you want to take notes.  We will provide whites and hairnets and all equipment.

The cost is £375 +VAT = £450 and you will take home your cheese for further pressing.   The first day is as the one cheese making class.  The second day is geared towards the activities you need to consider to make cheese commercially, from what to make, how much, how often, equipment needed, where to sell, the legalities and so on.  The course is tailored to your needs.

We should finish at about 2.30pm on day 1 and about 3-4pm on the second day, which is very intense.  If you need somewhere to stay, we recommend Cocketts Hotel in Hawes, but here is a link to Trip Advisor on all Hawes B&Bs and hotels.

If you are interested, please e-mail Iona at ionahill@gmail.com

Ribblesdale Cheese Runs Cheese Making Classes

Iona started making cheese in November 2008, only four years ago and taught Stu, who is now our Head Cheese Maker all that she knows (which may not necessarily be a good thing!) Stu has been with Ribblesdale Cheese since June 2010 and between us, we have adapted and developed our award winning Ribblesdale Cheese recipes.

Iona started the dairy from scratch, on a shoe string, with a zero knowledge base and with no equipment.  She attended a cheese making course at Reaseheath in August 2010 and came away quaking, still lacking in confidence that she did not know enough to be able to make cheese on a commercial scale.  This is not to say that Chris Ashby did not do a sterling job, but working on a 50 litre vat with five other people did not give me the knowledge I felt I needed.

Whilst we will never be as experienced as cheese gurus such as Val Bines, Ivan Larcher or Chris Ashby, we can offer hands on, one to one serious but at the same time light hearted advice and guidance, whether you are a cheese enthusiast or someone looking to change career from someone who started from scratch and is still learning.

Ribblesdale Cheese offer two distinct different types of cheese making courses as follows:

Home Cheese Making Enthusiasts, one day cost £125 + VAT per person

Aimed at enthusiasts who want to make cheese in their kitchen at home.  We will show you how to make cheese using our small crate system, processing 15 litres of milk.  You will be given a full set of cheese making notes explaining the science behind cheese making, including Frequently Asked Questions raised by other attendees, what to do if things go wrong and a list of where to source your cheese making materials.

We will offer you friendly hands on experience of making cheese on a small scale and try and point you in the right direction to make cheese at home.  Please ask us lots of questions, we are happy to help whilst you are with us, but if you are thinking of setting up commercially, then you should take the two day course as we will not advise you on making or selling cheese commercially, simply on how to make cheese at home.

You will take home your cheese for further pressing, along with the reusable mould and cloth.

You should leave us understanding the basics and what to watch out for and the various stages of cheese making to start to make your own cheese at home.  Some people make a perfect cheese first time and others practice on small quantities of shop bought milk until they feel confident.  Please note that cheese can be made at home using shop bought homogenised milk, but sometimes the set can be a little weak.  I advise home cheese makers to practice using shop bought milk and then when they feel they have perfected their craft, to source some raw milk from a local farm.

We always love to hear from former attendees, but please note that we can only offer limited follow up help as this is a basic cheese making course, albeit on a one to one basis.

Would Be Commercial Cheese Makers, two days, cost £375 + VAT

Day 1 of the course consists of us making cheese using our small crate system as above.  You may have already started to make cheese, in which case this is a perfect chance to ask questions about your cheese making.  If you have not experimented with cheese making, fear not, we will run through the basics with you and we will make a cheese and start to discuss cheese making commercially.

Day 2 is a sit down office day where we will go through equipment layout, sourcing and costs, dairy planning, potential markets, costings and margins, legalities, food safety plans etc.  We may not cover everything in a day, but we can ask you which topics are most important to you.  A third day can be arranged at extra cost if you have fairly specific requirements.

We ask that you do not compete with us as a business.

Consultancy Advice

Iona is able to assist with business planning, market research, preparing financials, costings and sales forecasts in addition to help source equipment, advise on what equipment is needed, dairy layout and dairy planning.  We work closely with our equipment suppliers, Brytec who have helped source the majority of Ribblesdale Cheese’s kit (and no, we don’t get a kick back!)

 Why Take a Cheese Making Course with Ribblesdale Cheese?

There are other places to take cheese making classes.  Chris Ashby runs possibly the best known course at Reaseheath which cost £492 and last two and a half days.  The inestimable Ivan Larcher and our friend Val Bines run excellent one and two day cheese making courses at the School of Artisan Food which cost from £175.

Whilst we do not have the experience of Chris, Ivan or Val, with us, Iona and Stu, you will receive individual one to one tuition and hands on practical experience with no sharing in a professional, friendly and relaxed environment.  We have learned the hard way and set up a small dairy from scratch just four years ago and we know all too well the pitfalls and have learned from our mistakes and we are happy to pass our knowledge on.  We are based in North Yorkshire which is handy for some people who cannot get to Nantwich or Nottingham.  With us, we will tailor our courses to your requirements; we are here to answer your questions and help you achieve your goals, whether it is making cheese at home in your kitchen or thinking about setting up a small commercial dairy.

Cheese Making Course Costs

The cheese making course costs (excluding VAT) £125 per person.  Each person will have their own ‘vat’ to work on, you will not be sharing.  Apologies, we do not run courses over the weekend as firstly, this is our time of rest and secondly, we like to run courses with the freshest milk possible; the way our deliveries work out, our milk would be too old by the weekend.  We do make cow cheese every other Monday and we process goat milk most Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Wednesday/Thursday.

What Do You get From the Course?

You will get one to one tuition from Iona and Stu who are there to answer all your questions.  Iona will explain the process of pasteurisation, the various steps of cheese making and the science behind cheese making, for it seems to us to be a mix of science, intuition and skill/experience, though one of our cheesey friends described cheese making as ‘a black art’!

We provide the milk, starter, rennet and salt and use of our food grade crate system, whites, hair net and a comprehensive set of cheese making notes.

You will also take an approx. 2kg cheese home with you, together with the cheese cloth and mould, both of which can be reused.

We will explain how to continue pressing your cheese and we will give you some wax so that you can wax it at home, to allow it to mature and develop flavour and texture.

We also provide a list of where to buy equipment and dairy supplies from.

What Will I Be Making?

We only make hard cheeses as these can be matured, have a long shelf life and are easier to transport home.

Every other Monday, we make a cow’s milk Wensleydale and on Tuesday to Thursdays we process goat milk.  We can make a goat milk style Wensleydale or a Gouda.  Making a Gouda is usually for more experienced cheese makers.

When Do You Run The Courses?

We run the courses from January to the end of October each year, depending on Iona’s availability Monday to Thursdays.  We do not run courses during our busy times: November to December, this being our busiest time of year.

Apart from a handful of sheep make days which are on Fridays, we do not make cheese on Fridays, so because we do not have the milk on Fridays,  we are unable to run classes on Fridays.

We run cow make classes every other Monday, starting from Monday 7th January, then Monday 21st Jan, Monday Feb 4th etc.

Goat make classes are run Tuesdays and Weds or Weds and Thurs most weeks.

Please e-mail iona: ionahill@gmail.com or call us on 01969 66 77 88.

Who Will Be Teaching Me?

Iona will be making the cheese with you and explaining about cheese making whilst Stu is making a large vat.  Stu is also on hand to ask questions and if you are interested, you can join Stu in making the large vat.  Please ask us lots of questions!

How Long Does the Course Last?

We generally ask people to arrive between 8.30am and 9am and depending on how warm our little dairy is, we should be finished at around 2.30pm – 3pm or later if you would like to help process the large vat.

What Do I need to Bring With Me?

If you want to bring a pad of paper to make notes, please do.  Please bring clean shoes as you may not fit into our wellies and be prepared for your shoes to get a little wet.  Otherwise, bring comfy clothing, it can be cold in our dairy in the winter and very warm in the summer, so if you are dressed in layers, it may make life easier.

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