A Cheese Making Workshop

This past weekend two of my colleagues and I got to travel to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts to take a Cheese Making Workshop conducted by cheese master Jim Wallace.

Master Cheese Maker, Jim Wallace

Master Cheese Maker, Jim Wallace

We learned about the processes of making Cheddar, Camembert and Vacha Toscana, about a lot of the science, theory and instinct involved in cheese making as well as an evaluation of the cheese each of us brought for him to trouble shoot.

We had a great group: Seth from Vermont/New York, Martin from St. Augustine, Michael and Belinda from Pennsylvania who want to buy a boat soon and sail the eternal summer; two of my colleagues and myself.

Our Group

Our Group

Each of us have tinkered with cheese for a few years and this workshop allowed us to take our skills to another level. I hope we can stay in touch somehow, I want to hear about the cheese making adventures at sea!

Jim’s cheeses are not only beautiful but very tasty.

Cheese in the cave

Cheese in the cave

His “Cave” and drying rooms are places I could spend hours.

Cave door

Cave door

The drying room

The drying room

In addition to making cheese, Mr. Wallace also makes some lovely wine and impressive beer.

Wine making

Wine making

The workshop began at 9AM with the introduction of milk, cultures, rennet, stirring, curd cutting,

PH lab

PH lab

draining, molding and finally pressing.

I was amazed how easy it seems to be to make Camembert. Can’t wait to try it!

Jim’s lovely wife Robin made lunch for us both days. The table was full of lively conversations, great food, cheese, wine and beer. (Jim told us we must have been a special group as he doesn’t usually share his beer and wine with classes. So if you go, don’t expect it!)

Sunday morning, Robin and Jim were making fresh butter from the butterfat that floated to the top of the whey from Saturdays cheese making.

Really fresh butter! Boy did that butter taste good!

Really fresh butter and you know how much I love butter!

Really fresh butter and you know how much I love butter!

Both Jim and Robin were professional photographers who traveled and sold their work at shows. This resulted in an amazing collection of original art work from photographs of their own and others, sculpted art pottery, bead work, and dinner/serve ware style pottery. It was great to be in the presence of so much creative energy.

Jim works with Ricki Carroll of The New England Cheese Making Supply on development, workshops, recipes and website.

If you have any interest in cheese making, I highly suggest you get in contact with Jim to see what he has coming up. He has limited space so make you plans early.

You can contact him at jim@cheesemaking.com.

He can give you the cost, dates and availability of up coming workshops. I would say these aren’t for someone who has never made cheese before because he gets quite technical. If you never made cheese before, find a local class that teaches mozzarella, marscapone, lemon cheese, cream cheese and other quick, easy fresh cheese.

If you like the process, play with making a couple aged cheese, THEN go take a workshop from Jim.

These are the cheeses that everyone brought for the evaluation session

These are the cheeses that everyone brought for the evaluation session

Bring your cheese with you and he will tell you what you did right, what went wrong and give great advice about your cheese. Everyone got a lot out of this session.

I will create posts on the cheese we made and the cheese we make now that we are back from the workshop.

It will be quite fun and interesting to get to make these. The challenge will be in allowing them to ripen and age enough before cutting into them.

Some age for a couple of weeks, and others several months, We think once we get the process started, we can have a perpetual flow of amazing artisan and farmstead cheese.

Watch for these posts over the summer!

If you take a workshop from Jim, let me know what you get to make as his workshops are all different. We guess it depends upon what his cave needs and his social schedule as he always brings cheese.

You’ve got to pace yourself though, it is easy to get cheesed out if you don’t normally have a lot of cheese in your diet.

Let’s make some cheese!

Aged Cheddar

Aged Cheddar

Almost ripe Camembert

Almost ripe Camembert

Aging Vacha Toscana

Aging Vacha Toscana

Jim's cheese we tasted at lunch. The Bavarian Feta (rectangle cheese top left) is my favorite!

Jim’s cheese we tasted at lunch. The Bavarian Feta (rectangle cheese top left) is my favorite!

 

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