First a confession.
I am not now, nor probably ever will be, a cheesemaker. I love to eat it, read about it, hear about it and smell it, but I'm just not the kind of person who will get serious about the rather specialized and painstaking process involved in making it. Though working as an affineur's apprentice for a short time in a French cheese cave might be fun. But I digress.
Chrissie Zaerpoor, she of the pasture-raised, organically and sustainably grown chickens at Kookoolan Farms in Gaston, Oregon, invited me to attend one of the cheesemaking classes she holds in her farm store kitchen. Now, this farm store is getting a reputation among home cheesemaking afficianados, and there is an increasing number of them, as ground zero for the best selection of cheesemaking supplies and equipment in the area.
Cheesemaker Scott Catino, who is planning to open Quail Run Creamery in about six months featuring cheeses from his herd of goats, showed the process from start to (nearly) finish, as well as the finer points of making a monterey or manchego cheese. Starting with raw milk and moving through the heating, addition of vegetable rennet, cutting of the curds and molding, the whole process took about three hours.
These classes would be perfect for a home cheesemaker or anyone interested in finding out more about how cheeses are made. And if you get really excited, Chrissie offers to bring any cheesemaking supplies you order from the website to her booth at the Sunday Hillsdale Farmers' Market, where you can also buy Noris brand milk (Chrissie says "by far the best commercial milk available locally for the purpose of home cheesemaking") from Lisa Jacobs at the Jacobs Creamery booth at the same market. Upcoming classes:
- Oct. 4: Winemaker Rudi Marchesi of Montinore Estate Vineyard teaches a class on Asiago with a cheese tasting of Italian cheeses and wines from his winery.
- Oct. 18: Mary Rosenblum, science fiction author, cheesemaker and county fair cheese judge, will teach a class on cheddar and the cheddaring process with a tasting of, you guessed it, cheddar cheese!
- Nov. 1: Soft cheeses with Scott Catino of Quail Run Creamery will cover basic techniques as well as how to flavor soft cheeses with herbs, vegetables and fruits. Tasting includes Scott's cheeses as well as others.