Cheesemaker in the spotlight
Meet home cheesemaker and Pink Lake Butcher shop owner Kaaron Mitchell. Kaaron is only new to making cheese but in an award-winning Charcutier.
When did you take up cheesemaking and why?
I needed a new challenge, and cheese was a fantastic next step to go with the variety of charcuterie that I make.
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?
The first batch I tried was a Blue Cheese, which completely failed because my daughter broke her ankle the same weekend, causing distraction. We had to move my daughter and her young children into our house for a few weeks while she had surgery and started recovering. I aim to repeatedly make a particular cheese until I get it right.
What sort of cheeses (& dairy products eg 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’ve not yet made yoghurt, but I’ve been making my own butter for years. Since I started making cheese early this year, I’ve successfully made and completed a Triple Cream Brie, Edam, Brie Nuit, and Monte Rosso. I have a Farmhouse Cheddar, 2 x Gruyère, and a Manchego currently doing time aging.
What has been some interesting or rewarding cheesemaking experience/s
It’s rewarding each time a cheese comes out successful, but my biggest reward is having my 7 year old granddaughter wanting to join in and learn the cheesemaking process alongside me.
What has been your biggest cheesemaking challenge/s
The biggest challenge I guess has been getting my cave to te correct temperature and humidity and having the time to actually make the cheese.
What is your favourite cheese(s) to make?
So far – The Manchego would have to be my favourite purely on looks alone.
What cheese do you regularly have in your fridge OR What cheese cannot you do without
I love a good Brie or Blue, the most stinky cheese is on my list.
What is your advice to anyone looking to start out on a cheesemaking journey?
Research, sanitise, read through the recipe at least 3 times before you start and ensure you have all the equipment and ingredients – nothing is worse than having to halt while you nip to the shop for an extra ingredient.
Do you have a favourite cheese(s) and cheese pairing(s)
I’ll eat most cheeses, so there are no real favourite pairings – but I’m glad I’m the only one in my house who WILL eat a stinky or blue cheese until my granddaughter discovers how good they are.
What cheese do you want to make but have not made?
Cheese is usually decided between myself and my granddaughter over a cookie or cake – she usually wins the decision.
Do you have any equipment you like to use?
I bought a big shiny new pot for my cheese and I love it!
Images of Kaarons Cheese’s
Manchego Monte Rosso
Brie Nuit Ziegerkase
Is there a favourite book or resource that you reference most to get technical information?
I’ve joined a Facebook page called “Learn To Make Cheese” where there are over 40k members and a lot of experts to help at any point in the process. I’ve had no major issues since the beginning, but I know they are there to help if needed.
Do you have a favourite cheese recipe (that you want to include)
I don’t really have a favourite recipe at this point – but I’ve got a few in my sights to test drive.
Do you have food related hobbies outside of cheese?
I am a National Gold Award Winning Charcutier, but I also make Jams, Chutneys, Pickles, do Home Brew – Beer and Mead, (and if I may say so I make a mean Limoncello) I also bake and own a retail butcher store & charcuterie
Tell us about your butcher shop
I own Pink Lake Butchers in Esperance with my husband and we have been here for the last nearly 13 years. I decided to start making Charcuterie with no prior experience in our store about 7 or 8 years ago and after a lot of research, an extra Food Safety Standards Course and a few false starts, I just haven’t looked back. It’s been well received by many locals and have been awarded several Gold, Silver and Bronze at both State and National level and we picked up State Champion in 2022 for my Basturma. Cheesemaking is a very similar science to Charcuterie, although the different mould growths in cheese (b. linens etc) took me a little bit to get used to.
Here is my most recent Charcuterie Board using my own products (Cheese & Charcuterie)
Some recent awards
From TL to BR
Capocollo, Basturma, Coppa, Pancetta
I’m enjoying the process, being able to stretch my brain and teach my granddaughter some home cooking/preserving skills in the process as well as being able to make amazing products. My friends are lined up to sample some of my goods, and most are following me on my Instagram page to see the process in action. I already have people querying if I could teach them too. Food skills are a life skill and it’s important to be able to produce and/or make your own food. After all – cooking is something you have to do every day for the rest of your life.