We are continually inspired by the wealth of local producers here in the South West and Sarah from Shebbear Cheese is one of our favourites. Sarah has been making cheese for many years now, and her passion for the cheese making process and using natural local ingredients is inspiring and completely contagious.
I’ve attended many workshops over the years and made countless things from scratch. But one thing I had never tried my hand at before was cheese-making. It had always seemed a little bit too complicated a process for me. But I do love eating cheese. So when the opportunity came to take part in Sarah's cheese making course that Sue and I organised at Clavelsahy, I was pretty excited.
The day was a good mix of relaxed and busy – with plenty of time for questions and reviewing the process, but no hanging about aimlessly. At 10am we gathered over coffee and biscuits for an introduction and then got straight into learning the art of making our own semi-soft and feta type handmade cheese using traditional methods. Starting with the basic cheese making steps.
We learnt how to warm the milk, inoculate the milk with lactic bacteria and ripen the milk. Add the coagulant to the milk and allowed it to set until it forms a solid curd.
Once the cheese had set into a solid curd, we then cut it up, let it set for about 10 minutes.
Between each stage we discussed what we’d done and ask questions – from sterilising flavourings to best ways to ripen the cheese…
Once it had set we drained it, molded it and popped it on a ripening mat in a plastic container. And voila, our soft cheese was made. It was actually much easier than I thought.
A quick break for lunch of warm home-made bread and then quiches and salad made by the multi talented Sue, followed by an incredibly delicious range of Sarah's own handmade cheeses.
Then it was back to the 2nd round of cheese making, this time the feta. We followed the same steps for the semi-soft cheese, and before we knew it the feta was made and ready to take home with us.
Sarah gave us all containers, draining mats, salt to make the brine for the feta at home, notes on the ripening steps for both cheeses, and most importantly, we were equipped with the knowledge and skills to re-create these cheeses at home.
I loved that the class was such a friendly, easy intro to cheese-making, and surprisingly the whole process of traditional cheese making is very therapeutic.
Thank you so much Sarah, we had a brilliant time, and can't wait for the next workshop.
If you are interested in attending the next cheese making workshop in the spring of 2013 (details coming soon) just call Sue on 01278 662629.
Oh yes, one final thought. You can taste some delicious locally made cheese yourselves by contacting Sarah herself here.