When did you take up cheesemaking and why?
A friend who shares my passion for food and cooking suggested to my wife that she buy me a cheese making kit and wine fridge for Christmas in 2013. Since then I have accumulated enough gear to fill a built-in wardrobe at home, and have three cheese “caves” running – my wife tells people she has created a monster! I just love the way in which you can, with some simple steps and a little bit of innovation, turn milk into a product that everyone loves.
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?
I made a batch of Wensleydale and some Mozzarella, which both turned out a bit chalky despite adhering rigidly to the recipe. With the knowledge I have picked up through Graham’s cheese making courses and 18 months of my own experience, I am now confident in making some quite intensive cheeses with consistent results, because I am much better tuned into the key signs to look for during the process (curd set, curd size and moisture levels, etc).
What sort of cheeses (& dairy products) 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 make at least 2 kg of cheese every month and regularly spend time on “cheese husbandry” – attending to the various cheeses I have in my cheese caves (wine fridges). After some initial reluctance to make some of the soft cheeses, I am now making more of those as a result of the information I have picked up through the courses and lots of reading. I am still fascinated by the concept of taking one raw product (milk) and just by altering culture, time, temperature and maturation, you can get so many different tastes and textures in cheese.
What is your favourite cheese(s) to make?
I am obsessed by washed rind cheeses at the moment. One of my favourites is Esrom, which I wash in brine every night for 6 weeks after it has dried. I am about to tackle Epoisses, which I first tried at a specialty fromage store in London last year so I will be interested in how the washed rind works with the soft and creamy centre.
What is your advice to anyone looking to starting out on a cheesemaking journey?
Keep good logs of every aspect of every step of making your cheeses. That way, when you crack the perfect end result, you will have a better chance of being able to repeat it.
And don’t be afraid to experiment once you get the basics under control. My most popular cheeses are those to which I have added my own personal twist in the form of additives or a different rind treatment.