My name is Lynda and am a ‘cheese nerd” and have the t-shirt to prove it! I started my cheese journey when I was given a set of the mini spoons by my sister, she had been to a couple of Mad Millie courses in New Zealand. On one of my regular trips back to Christchurch to visit family, Robyn gave me an extra set of mini spoons, some cheese cloth and a few other bits and pieces.
When I got back to Melbourne, I started my cheese making after purchasing a couple of books and some more equipment to get me started. At first it was a bit of a hit and miss whether my cheeses turned out well enough to be consumed, a lot ended up in the bin and I was very disheartened with my results for quite a few years. Don’t get me wrong I did make some great cheeses but I didn’t keep any records of what I was doing, big mistake! I just kept making the same mistakes over and over again, that was until something popped up on my Facebook wall about a cheese making course run by Graham Redhead. I couldn’t sign up fast enough, that was over 4 years ago and he hasn’t been able to get rid of me yet. I am now a regular at his courses when he gets down to Melbourne and I having been making cheese for over 7 years now.
I can’t even remember what cheese I made first, maybe a feta. I had no problems with soft cheeses but when I went onto trying to make harder cheeses that’s when the problems started. The books that I had purchased had basic recipes but left out a lot of important information like working to a schedule and timing, hence the disasters!
I now have quite a collection of cheese books and my favourite at the moment is Jean Mansfield’s ‘How to make Cheese’, I was given this book for Christmas a couple of years ago and I am slowly working my way through it. I usually have a big cheese making binge in the school holidays as I work at a school. I drive down and pick up around 60 litres of fresh unhomogenized milk straight from a dairy near Phillip Island (it is legally pasteurised) and then spend the next 3 or 4 days making cheese. A lot of planning for what I will be making happens first, how many litres in each cheese, do I need cream or light milk and of course what cheeses.
I have made well over a hundred cheeses, probably hundreds and I now keep records of all cheeses that I make so I can learn from my mistakes and yes, I still make them occasionally! My favourite cheeses to make are Dutch/Swiss type and I now know not to make them during winter as I can’t keep them warm enough during the eye forming stage (note to myself for next year!) but they still taste great. I also like to experiment and push the boundaries a little, like trying to mix my love of cheese and chocolate by making cocoa covered rosewater camembert, one of my favourites.
My advice to someone starting out on their own cheese making journey, start slowly, get good information/instruction and jump right in and keep making cheese. I don’t do anything slowly, or by halves, that is why my laundry if full of cheese making equipment, 2 wine fridges and a converted freezer! At the moment I have in my cheese fridges: Camembert, Gorgonzola, Tetilla, Jarlsberg, Baby Swiss, Shepato, Havarti (various flavours), saffron/pepper cheddar, merlot infused cheddar, gin infused cheddar, Manchego and various other flavoured cheddars and probably a few more hidden somewhere in the back of the fridge in the kitchen. Enjoy your cheese making journey as I am too.