When I took up cheesemaking and why?
A colleague at work piqued my interest so I went home and googled cheesemaking and somehow found my way to Graham’s website. This was in December 2018. My goal was and still is to make Parmesan cheese
The first batch of cheese I made by myself?
My first cheese I tried was Mozzarella. I was so proud and then reality set in…it was a disaster. It was a 30min Mozzarella following a video online – I threw it on the compost heap after a day or two as I saw pink spots in the jar – which was pink Himalayan salt! Now I know that I would never recommend Mozzarella for a first cheese.
I emailed my mentor Graham and he kindly sent me some first cheese recipes to try. So, in January 2019 I had my first successful cheeses.
After these first cheeses, I enrolled to do the 2-day Intensive course in Brisbane. As I have family on the Sunshine Coast, I decided to combine the course with a holiday. I found an Airbnb close to the college where the course was held. It was a hard two days’ work and very rewarding. Was out of my comfort zone with a bunch of strangers, but everyone was very welcoming, even to a Kiwi!
I didn’t take into consideration the logistics of cheesemaking overseas… how was I going to get my cheese home to New Zealand through the border? Some of the cheese was consumed by us and others had to age. A vacuum sealer was purchased to vac sealed the cheddar – I halved this and left some in Caloundra with the family and declared the rest at the border.
On the course, we used Maleny milk and when I bought some bottles back to my Aussie family, they told me the farm was not far away. My partner and I went to Maleny dairy farm and did the ‘farm’ tour. It was interesting to see firsthand where our milk came from and rounded off the cheesemaking course/holiday perfectly
The styles of cheese that I make…
Since the course in April this year, I have made 18 cheeses to date (Sept 19) These are all from the course – Feta, Greek feta, Brie, Triple Brie, Camembert, and cheddar. Cheddar was the last one as I needed a cheese press.
I make cheese at least once a month now. Also, am a sourdough baker and use the whey as the liquid component in my sourdough.
What have been some interesting or rewarding cheesemaking experience?
Having others commenting on the taste/texture of my own homemade cheese is my greatest pleasure
My favourite cheeses to make
So far, Camembert and Brie as I love watching the mould grow on them. I also like cheddar and want to explore more flavoured cheddar.
The cheese that I regularly have in my fridge
Feta and Persian Feta is always in my fridge – great in salads and pizzas.
My advice to anyone looking to starting out on a cheesemaking journey?
Be aware it can be an expensive hobby. Milk is the most expensive component. You get a nice yield from soft cheeses. Surprisingly how little end product you get from the harder pressed styles. And the amount of whey left over.
For example – cost in NZ using supermarket full cream milk
- Cost of milk $11 (4 litres)
- Weight of finished hard cheese 485g
- Time 4hrs making
- Mature in 4-12mths
The equipment costs for simple cheeses are ok, but I tend to like my ‘toys’ and have a sous vide and a ChefAlarm which makes cheesemaking easier. The sous vide works very well and saves mucking around with the water bath temperature. One of the surprising things is the amount of water used.
Graham once told me it gets easier each time, and this is true…you set up and sanitize faster with each new batch.
Also keeping notes and photos of your process and cheeses. It’s nice to look back and necessary at times.
One last thing is that it is hard to find cultures for recipes as there seems to be so many different names around the world. Having recipes and cultures from Graham has worked for me, but expensive as I live in NZ (haven’t found good suppliers here) My freezer container with cultures reminds me of some mad scientist at work!
In saying all this…it is very rewarding, and the taste is fantastic compared to supermarket cheeses.
My aim is to make this cheeese…
Parmesan is first on my list to achieve, also like to try Gouda
My favourite book is?
I am slowly making my way through a book that was recommended on the course – Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell. It is a great reference book and well written.
Being in some cheesemaking Facebook groups also helps with knowledge and questions and you see some very inspiring cheeses.