Dairy Delights

I have been working on my cheese making since I did my course at the end of June. So far my production has been limited to fetta and ‘Greek style” yoghurt (just read extra creamy there), which are very useful products for our regular cooking. Both the straight brined fetta and the fetta marinated in oil and herbs taste very good.


We did make camenbert at the course, but to be truthful, the ones we tasted were pretty much the same as flavour as the camenbert available in the shops. Given the additional fiddle of waiting for the mould to develop and the cheese to mature I decided that unless the milk I use is a cut above the average that I won’t bother with making this cheese.

That said, on our latest visit to Newcastle one of my family members told me that Udder Farm, the dairy near their place was selling non-homogenised pure Jersey cow milk.


Image courtesy of French Wikipedia

These bovine beauties are renowned for their ability to produce milk with a very high cream content and were, in my childhood, quite a common sight on Australian farms. Indeed my great grandfather had a Jersey herd and my Aunt used to proudly recount that the cream content in the milk from his herd was so rich that they had to cut his cow’s milk with that of other herds to reduce it to the lower cream standard required by the dairy company.

My sister obtained the necessary milk for me and I was ready to make some camenbert of, hopefully, really good quality.


Did I mention that it takes 4 litres of milk to make 5 cheeses? All up the 5 cheeses I’ve made from this milk weigh in at 825 grams so not your low cost cheese unless you have a dairy herd to hand.

I took some photos at the early stage of the process.This is one of the hoops of cheese at the end of the first day.


As you can see from the photo below the cheeses shrink over time, losing lots of watery whey in the process. On the upside, our chickens absolutely love the whey as it still contains milk proteins that are very good for them.


You have to keep an eye out for the white mould developing on the surface of the cheese, before you can mature them. Thankfully all mine are suitably fluffy after 8 days sitting out in the kitchen. I then wrap them in foil and set them aside to mature for at least a month in the fridge.


Here’s one I prepared earlier, indeed this is the first camenbert I made at our class. It’s past the one month mark but still is a bit hard in the centre. Fingers crossed it will be ready to go when the spinners come over for the evening in a few weeks time.


Finding our Whey

Last Friday my friend M and I found ourselves in Ulladulla, along with 14 other interested people, making cheese. We’d both heard Lyndall Dykes being interviwed on ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph program a few weeks ago about home cheesemaking and we were thrilled to find out that there was a class being held a few weeks later in our ‘region’. What a great reason to head down the coast to escape our frosty winter.


What don’t they do in Ulladulla?

What appealed to us about this class was the emphasis was on the simplicity of the cheese making process. It’s really easy to get carried away with the sheer foodie seduction that small scale cheese producers can induce us, but in reality making cheese is really a rather straightforward process.


To start the day we all sampled the cheeses and other products we would be learning to make – camenbert, fetta, ricotta, yoghurt and marscapone. We then got straight into making our camenbert and fetta, well that is until the fire drill interupted us. Anyway we were quickly back to the cheese making. Our third cheese for the morning was ricotta which we were making in time to eat for our lunch!


Ricotta and spinach patties with salad for lunch.

Somewhat like bread making we learned that cheese making has short periods of activity and then long times when you just let the product get on with it. Which is why we could get so many cheeses underway in one day. Our instructions were very straightforward and within quite a short period of time our curds were forming.

Once the initial cutting of the curds was completed and the curd had rested we were all encouraged to ‘lift and jiggle’ the curds to help the whey to drain out. After several lots of lift and jiggle we were able to scoop the curds into the hoops


By lunchtime we had our curds draining in the hoops.


Fetta to the left and camembert to the right.

After lunch we had a demonstration for making quark (cream cheese) and marscapone, using a yoghurt maker. We then had time to review the days recipes with the very thorough notes provided.


Camenbert, fetta and marscapone flavoured with rum and raisin and rolled in almonds

While there was still turning and brining of our cheeses to be carried out on subsequent days we finished the day feeling quite capable of making a variety of useful cheeses. The feta is ready to eat now and the camenbert will be right to go in about 4 weeks time.

If you are interested in taking a class you can check out what’s available at the Cheese Making Workshop website. They also provide cheese making supplies.To date the company haven’t been able to offer classes in Canberra, but they are currently looking for a suitable venue.