Cheesemaking 101

Guild Board member Eric Rector will be teaching a beginning cheesemaking workshop for MOFGA in January — here is the info and a link to the sign-up page:

January 20, 2020
Monday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cumberland County UMaine Cooperative Extension office
75 Clearwater Dr., Suite 104, Falmouth, Maine
Fee: $75 general, $65 for MOFGA members, free for journeypersons; lunch included

Learn how to make cheese at home at MOFGA’s beginner home cheesemaking course. Eric Rector, owner of Monroe Cheese Studio and board member of the Maine Cheese Guild, will teach the basics of turning organic raw milk into delicious cheese through a hands-on demo. We will make a quick fresh cheese to slice and taste during class. Additional demonstrations will feature the differences between fresh, aged and acid-set cheeses and rennet-set cheeses. We will also learn how to make ricotta and mozzarella, and some history of cheese.”

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Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference by Olivia Barber

Olivia Barber
Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference Article
April 8, 2019

This February I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to attend the annual Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference in New Holland, PA. This was my first time attending any cheese making conference.

At the beginning of the conference we were all given a 3 ring binder. This binder contained all of the presentations and resources from the event. That means that even if you couldn’t attend a session, you still had all of the notes from that session. This is a wonderful resource that I will use over and over again.

For the first two sessions, I attended a talk about Marketing and Agri-tourism. At Fuzzy Udder Creamery, I am the marketing and wholesale manager. In the future I hope to integrate more Agri-tourism into our farm. It was very interesting to see what other farms are doing to add agri-tourism. I walked away with new ideas that I hope to implement at Fuzzy Udder in the future.

At the last minute, a spot opened up in the hands-on cheese making class with Fons Smits and I was able to be part of that class. The first day we went over the cheese making process of a washed curd cheese like a gouda or baby swiss. We went over the basic cheese making process of a washed curd cheese, what cultures to use and renneting. We also went over how to troubleshoot your cheese. For example if your cheese is too sour, you might need to increase the amount of washing water and the temperature of the water.

On the second day, we held the hands on part of the class, where we actually made cheese. We made a gouda style cheese. It is very interesting to learn from different cheese makers. Each one has a very different style. Last year I took a class from Ivan Larcher, who doesn’t brine his cheeses at all and advises against it. On the contrary, Fons brines almost all of his cheeses and highly recommends it. I think learning from many different cheese makers allows you to find the process and cheese that works in your facility and with your milk. I left the workshop inspired and excited to make cheese!

One of my favorite parts of the conference was meeting and socializing with other cheese makers. I met many cheese makers from across the country. Some had vastly different operations than ours and some were similar. It was wonderful to network with people in the same field and make lasting connections.

And of course at a cheese making conference there was lots of cheese! It was great to try so many different types of cheese. They held a Cheese Extravaganza one night, that featured many recipes using cheese as well as cheese pairings. It was exciting to try Parish Hills Cornerstone cheese. There were cheese soups, cheese sliders, cheese balls, basically anything you could make with cheese! They also gave you all of the recipes so you could go home and make your favorites.

Overall, I was highly impressed by the Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference. I hope to make it an annual event and attend every year.

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Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference 2019

Submitted by: Heather Donahue

I enjoyed my first trip to the Cheese Maker’s Resource Conference in New Holland, PA. As it is titled, there was a strong focus for cheese makers. While there was a little bit of information for marketing, mongering and managing, much of the conference focused on the needs o f cheese makers. Several technical sessions caught my eye, most notably the Cheddar series and the Affinage series.

Dave Potter from Dairy Connection was the instructor for the cheddar sessions. He focused on the cheddar make process- including acid production in the vat, not during the aging process. Dave talked in detail about the factors that can influence the quality of the aged cheese. Rennet type can affect the final cheese taste as different rennets cut the proteins in different lengths. Some cheeses cultures can continue to digest the proteins in aging to minimize the bitterness. Rennet action can also be affected by the pH of the milk- it will work faster at a lower pH. Curd cutting time can influence the moisture of the cheese: a firm set will give a softer cheese, a soft set will yield a firmer cheese that will also be drier since some fat will be lost too. After cutting, healing is an important step, without it, you will lose fat. Consistent heating in the cook step is better than a steep rise in temperature. Milling step is important to increase surface area of the curd to absorb salt, also allowing more surface area for whey to escape during pressing. Salting should be broken up into 3 steps as too much salt to fast, it will be lost in the whey drain off.

After draining/pressing, cheeses would be moved next to the aging space. Peter Dixon presented three sessions on affinage. He began by covering environmental conditions: temperature, humidity, ventilation(air mixing), and oxygenation(air exchange). Temperature can influence what is growing on the cheese during aging- for example, yeasts like cooler temperatures(37-72F) than Coryneforms(50-60F). Humidity can influence the thickness of the cheese rind. Ventilation is important, but too much will dry out the cheeses. Air exchange is important to remove build up of ammonia in the aging space.

The second affinage session focused on the cheese caves, cellars and aging rooms. Cellars are close to the make room and have a lower construction cost. An aging room is usually the lowest cost and is easy to construct. Dedicated aging space is important to provide stability for the cheese where the temperature, humidity and ventilation can be regulated. Cooling is usually accomplished with refrigeration systems, with ventilation and humidity affected by temperature. Cheese aging space can be calculated by figuring 1cu. Ft of cheese weighs 80lbs, with 30 cu ft of space needed for 8o lbs of cheese for aging (50 cu ft if drying the cheese). Different types of cheeses will require different conditions. Wood shelving can be used to minimize moisture loss from cheese since it will either absorb or give off water depending on the humidity of the room. In the interest of food safety, Peter was emphatic that water should not be put on the floor to increase humidity- the air should be humidified, not wetting the floor.

One of the reasons I was excited to attend this presentation is because it has been difficult to find resources for designing a cheese cave for aging our cheeses. Peter recommended the Profession Fromage’s The Cheese Ripening Guide as one of the most comprehensive resources he has found. Overall, I found the conference to be very beneficial. The only disappointment was that there was no trade show. There was a lot of time for cheesemakers to network during breaks and meals, which was a great opportunity.