When did you take up cheesemaking and why? Or what sparked your interest in making cheese?
I started about 6 years ago with a cheesemaking kit, that I was gifted from my son, to make fresh cheeses and feta cheese. I thought this looked easy to do and the cheese would be good on summer salads, and all of the family would enjoy it. I love being productive and making new things, particularly when it is so tasty.
What was the first batch of cheese you made by yourself? How did you feel about the experience and how did the cheese turn out? Can you compare your experience between then and now?
My first batch was a very lightly salted feta cheese that we ate with olives and tomatoes on a simple salad. It was fantastic, very easy to do, and my son liked it so much that I taught him how to make it, so now he makes the feta cheese. I do not make feta cheese much anymore, as I have passed that experience on. I now spend my time making more complex cheeses, with depth of flavour.
What sort of cheeses (& dairy products e.g. yoghurt) do you make, how many times have you made cheese, why do you like making cheese and how often do you make it?
I now do cheesemaking every day. I make new batches of cheese twice a week and the rest of the week involves draining, checking pH, salting, growing the moulds, cutting and packaging the cheese for market sales. We sell 4 different French style cheeses at the local markets, as a result of a trip to France on Graham’s Cheese Tour that piqued my interest even further in soft curd style cheesemaking and also the firmer blue vein style cheeses. I had thought that cheesemaking might be a good thing to do in my retirement, but now it seems to have taken over my life. We do regular product testing, and now sell 2 white mould cheeses (Whitehorse White and Ash Brie) and 2 blue mould cheeses (Blackburn Blue and Boronia Blue). We tend to sell out at local Farmers Markets. It has become a whole family experience.
What have been some interesting or rewarding cheesemaking experience(s)
I am a trained microbiologist, so I enjoy finding out how the different cultures change the flavour profile of the cheese. There are many different cultures in each cheese variety. I really like the fact that you can start with the same milk, and end up with 4 totally different flavoured cheeses. Other than the culture composition, the other main variable is how hard or soft the cheeses it, which is affected by how much you stir the curds. I just think it is so much fun.