We have been approached by three people in the last couple of weeks to help them start making cheese. This is very flattering and whilst we have not got the years of experience of someone like Val Bines, we have learned the hard way, making mistakes sometimes along the way but we take something each time when something doesn’t work quite as we had hoped.
Being small, everything we do is by hand and I can’t help feel that cheese making is a curious mix of science, intuition,
experience and sometimes luck – each vat is different and we go with the milk, its acid development, the feel of the make rather than say at 7am we do this, at 8am this.
We do offer one to one cheese making classes which are starting to get quite popular. They are very intense and hands on and go through the science of cheese making, why things go wrong and in some cases we help people with their business plans to set up a small cheese making operation. Some people just want to know more to make cheese at home and that is fine too and if we can help, we do our best. We may not have the most experience, but we are honest enough to pass on our knowledge if it helps others.
The inspiration behind our cheese making classes lies in the experience I had when I did my cheese making course. There were 26 of us and we were divided into groups of 5, all crowded around a little trial vat. I came away even more worried than I was before I went with this awful feeling that there was so much I did not know, I felt like I had little confidence and even less hands on knowledge. It took me four attempts to make our very first cheese – our Original Goat – and a lot of help from a couple of Lancashire based cheese makers, to whom I am extremely indebted – they know who they are. The fact that they helped us in such a big way makes me want to ‘pass it on’.
Last week, we made a trial of a cheese, based on an existing recipe but we wanted to see what happened if we tweaked it a little. So, we started with 500 litres of milk and set about making a trial. You have to accept that a trial may not work as expected, but until you try it, document everything meticulously, you won’t know how to improve it. Early signs of our trial are good and we may adopt the changes we made in our main recipe – you have to try these things.