Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Say Cheese

For a couple of years it has been a dream of mine to operate some small work-shops here in my kitchen. We have already been active in hosting Bio-dynamic work-shops and a few other small outdoor gatherings relating to farming, gardening. and animal care, but I was still waiting for a sudden burst of energy (and courage) to get my plans and dream into action. I just needed a nudge.
Do you know what I mean? It sometimes takes just a nudge to get things started and to put plans into action.
I had spoken about my future plans to a couple of friends, one of whom owns a house cow on her farm.  She really wanted to get started on learning to make some simple cheeses, so I said, "OK, if you get another two people who want to learn cheese making we will have enough to make a work-shop worthwhile."
So she organized another couple of friends and we had our first work-shop last week.
One of them had to drop out at the last minute, so there were just the three of us, which was still lots of fun.

We got off to a cracking start at 9am. The first cheese we made was a mild cream cheese and here is Mary-anne tying up the curds for draining, while Danielle observes. Then it was her turn to tie the cheese after an hour of draining.

Then we got into starting our Feta cheese. Great concentration was necessary as the rennet was measured in its exact portion.

We enjoyed morning tea during a short break in curd cutting and turning, temperature measuring, and all things cheese.
We had coffee and cheese-cake made from cream cheese that I had prepared earlier in the week. There was also a savoury dip made from cream cheese and home made Jembella Farm Apricot chutney.
This cream cheese is so versatile and so easy to make.

The day before the work-shop I took this cheddar (made in September '15) from the fridge to find it covered in blue mould. As I was cutting the mould off the surface I could see the little blue mould spores jumping into the air and then realised it was actually blue mould from a Blue Vein cheese (made in October '15) I had stored in the fridge near to the cheddar. We had finished eating the Blue Vein over a week ago.
The mould tasted exactly of blue vein cheese, and then I saw that the mould had permeated into the centre of the cheddar. Have I invented a Blue Vein Cheddar?
Well, this is all very well if all of the household loves Blue Vein cheese, but Brian does not!

 The offending Blue Vein cheese that has been eaten and is no longer in the fridge, but its spores remain.  Oh well, worse things could happen. ;)
We made a 4 litre feta cheese that was ready for its first "turn" just before the end of the work-shop. 

At the end of the morning the girls took with them a bag of goodies including;
-a piece of Feta cheese that I had made earlier in the week,
-a container of mild cream cheese,
-a jar of Cream cheese starter with which they can inoculate and continue making their own starters
-a jar of Type A Mesophilic starter for making Feta, Cheddar, Haloumi, Camembert, Mozzarella
-printed recipe sheets and instructions

During the workshop we talked about;
-inoculating our own starters and making new ones from what we have,
-making simple cheeses from start to finish,
-how to store and age our cheeses,
-how to adapt and make our own equipment from containers we already have or can purchase for little cost from second hand stores, cheap stores or op-shops,
-different types of cheese making supplies ie rennet, starters, cloths, molds, cheese press etc
-hygiene for us and our equipment
One of the main points that was appreciated by the girls was that cheese making is not so daunting after all. They had previously thought that it could only be done in  perfect conditions with special (expensive) equipment. That myth has now been debunked after spending a morning in my kitchen and turning out a couple of great tasting cheeses.
I think many people have this view that making cheese is a mystery and it will be expensive to buy all of the equipment needed.
Well, let me tell you a little secret. I have never been to a cheese making work-shop or purchased any special equipment, apart from the rennet and starters.
I had been keen to learn how to make cheese for many years, and that's the main reason why we bought our first cow. I read everything about cheese making that I could lay my hands on, borrowed every library book, photo-copied pages of recipes. I spoke to cheese makers, sat up into the wee hours searching the internet for more information. But most importantly, I just got on with it, and after a fair share of failures, there were more successes than failures.
I could not afford to buy all of those special baskets and equipment, so I learned how to adapt containers and other bits of everyday items to fit with my requirements.
Brian has been a great help in drilling holes, cutting bottoms out of jugs, and even made me a cheese press for making cheddars. It may not be perfect, but it works!
So, if the expense is putting you off, don't let it, just do it!
Cheese making workshops at Jembella Farm are priced to be within the reach of everyone. Once the basics are learned, participants will very soon recover that cost by the savings made in future non- necessary purchases.
It is not necessary to own your own cow as cheeses can be made in small batches using store bought milk if you don't have a friend with a cow who will give (or trade) you some milk. It is illegal to sell raw milk in Australia. Another stupid law, but don't start me on that one. 
The work-shops are limited to three people and are hands-on so that you will get to feel the texture and temperature of the curds at different stages. 
Work-shops will begin again in April (after Daisy's calf has been born and we have milk to spare)
They will begin at 9am  and finish at 1pm ... includes morning tea/coffee and delicious cheesy treats.
Also includes a take home bag of starters, cheeses, and recipe sheets.
Cost $60 per person
Numbers limited to three people per work-shop
Bookings essential. 

Do you make some of your own cheeses? Are you keen on making some simple cheeses? Did you know that some cheeses are just that, simple? And when you make them yourself you can save money as well as experience the satisfaction of making another item from scratch.


  1. Sally, workshops are great. We only had four at our first Simple Living Toowoomba one and now some of the workshops are packed out. I an intrigued about the crinkle cutter you mentioned on my blog as I don't have one. LOL! I wonder what it was you saw ;-)

    1. Nana Chel, that's funny, I was looking at your soaps with the beautiful wavy edges, but now I can't find soaps at all on your blog. There was a big picture on your side bar that used to take me to your posts about soap making, but it's not there now that I want to find it. I will go back and try to find it again. :)

  2. Sally, that would have been the 'featured post' or 'golden oldies' that I change most days. The soaps in the photo at the top of the post were star shapes and were soaps that Racheal made. She is one of the young mums who comes to our simple living groups and does some of our workshop presentations. I am not sure if that is what you are referring to. The labels are at the bottom of the page. One of these days I will organise myself and make a new page at the top of the blog for my soap making experiments.

    By the way we had a couple of cheesemaking workshops as well and they were fantastic. Who would have thought some cheeses would be so easy to make.

    1. Yes Nana Chel, that was it. Oh thank you, I was thinking I'd lost the plot. Did you see the crinkle cuts I was referring to?

  3. I had a look before but couldn't see them, Sally. I will have to check it out again. Ha ha.

  4. Yes!! I would love to learn, I'm about to have a baby, so will have to wait a little while. I was given a cheese making kit for Christmas, but there are some interesting ingredients included and I wonder if they're actually necessary.. like an additive to add back some of the goodness taken when milk is pasteurised, but since i have access to raw milk, I don't need this. Something to research further I guess.

  5. Kelly, your cheese making will be put on hold for a little while with new baby (exciting!) but once you learn the basics you'll be whipping up a feta in no time, with baby in one hand. Yes, they do recommend using products such as Lipase and Calcium Chloride if making cheese with pasteurized and homogenized milk. When using raw milk none of these are required, so I'll need to study up on these as we will talk about them in our workshops. Best of luck with baby's pending birth. :)

  6. Wow! I was going to ask about your workshops when I saw you mention them a few days ago. My partner and I would be interested in coming along to one when the calf comes along (would it be at all possible to bring our baby with us? She's only four months at the moment)

    1. Hi Erin, I'm sure we can work around your little six month old when the time comes. Danielle's little Isabelle was four months old last week and she slept in a corner on a rug for most of the morning. Generally speaking we would say no kids, but a small baby can do no harm I'm sure:) If you could email me at I will contact you to let you know some dates. Cheers!

  7. Sally your amazing
    I had an amazing time at your cheese workshop!
    Sally is such fun to be around , and very knowledgeable in a humble way!
    No question is too cheesy ..... Lol
    Thanks sal
    Well my first batch of cream cheese is ready to be strained on the morning. Here's hoping it's a keeper .
    Xx Mary-anne

    1. Aaw, thanks Mary-anne for the kind words. You and Danielle sure made the workshop buzz along so fast. Have fun with your new cheese tomorrow and hope it's a good batch. :) XX

  8. Hi Sally, I'd love to come to one of your cheesemaking workshops. Shall I stayed tuned to your blog for details closer to the date or are you taking bookings now? Thanks

    1. Hi Melanie, great to hear from you. Stay tuned for more details of dates for the workshops, but meanwhile, you could send me a quick email at the address in the side bar so I can inform you personally. Cheers!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...