First Cheese Making Class of 2013

Gary and Nicola having fun stirring their little vat of cheese

Gary and Rachael having fun stirring their little vat of cheese

On Monday, we had the pleasure of Gary and Rachael’s company.  They had driven up from Northampton on Sunday and stayed over at Aysgarth the night before and were relatively bright eyed and bushy tailed and kitted out in whites and the ubiquitous sexy hair nets by 8.30am on Monday morning.  I had a tussle with our two printers which for some evil reason decided to conk out on me until Stu rescued them, it was an eventful start to the day!

We were making a Wensleydale cow’s cheese.  Gary has had some experience of making cheese before he came to us and

Camera shy Nicola and Gary showing their block of cheese after having just drained off the whey

Camera shy Rachael and Gary showing their block of cheese after having just drained off the whey

had previously successfully made some cheddar and a brie; very impressive!  As Gary is considering setting up a small dairy of his own, our day was geared towards passing on information we have gleamed about how to set up a small dairy, planning the space, HACCP preparation, where to source items from, costings, potential markets and sales outlets and of course, making cheese!

We had a quick prowl around the dairy and looked at how the various bits of kit fit together and how Gary and Rachael could improvise, plan their own dairy and how to scale up.  Then we put hot water in the large crate, filled up the small crate with 15 litres of milk and set to.  It took about 15 minutes before the milk was warm enough to take the starter.

Cutting the curd into cubes

Cutting the curd into cubes

We ripened for about an hour, then renneted, cut and stirred until we reached the desired acidity.  It is always something of a challenge to make small vats in our little dairy when it is so cold, but we got there in the end and before we knew it, we had a handsome block of curd which we eventually salted and milled by hand.

The great thing for me when taking cheese making classes is that we can tailor them to what the person taking the class wants to know.

Gary and Nicola potting up their Wensleydale cheese

Gary and Rachael potting up their Wensleydale cheese

Gary and Rachael were quite advanced in their thinking: they have already made cheese and sounded out some local retailers with it.  Rachael has great marketing skills and it was obvious that both had given their new venture a lot of time and thought, so they were quite focused on what they wanted to find out.  I appreciated this and it makes it easier to be able to in a position to help.

Gary and Rachael took the cheese away with them to press in the small press they already own.  I am looking forward to hearing how it turns out; they plan to naturally rind it, which should be lovely, but it takes time and patience.  Developing a natural rind requires the cheese to be rubbed and turned to ensure an even growth of mould to become the rind.

It was a pleasure to have Gary and Rachael with us and good luck with the cheese making!  You know where we are if we can help you.  I look forward to hearing about your cheese and seeing it win awards!

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