A New Blog Page about Cheese Making Courses

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, £100 + VAT per person for 2 people

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

A one to one cheese making course costs (excluding VAT) £125, two people costs £100 each and three to four costs £75 each.  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?

Apart from busy times like the Christmas period, we run courses throughout the year, most weeks, depending on Iona’s availability Monday to Thursdays.

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.

Cancellation charges

If you are doing a course on a Tuesday and you cancel for non weather related reasons, there is a cancellation charge of £10 as we have saved milk for you which we can no longer process.  Apologies, but this has happened to us on a couple of occasions and we have had to throw out 30 litres of cow’s milk.


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