Beginners Cheesemaking Course in Melton

Beginners Cheesemaking Course

This weekend was so much fun.  I taught my first three cheese beginners cheesemaking course at Melton South Community Centre.

Yes, we had taught cheesemaking courses before, but just mozzarella, and not in long form.  My new course was 5 hours 30 minutes long and the students learnt how to make three basic cheeses; Paneer, Whole milk Ricotta, and Quick Mozzarella.

So let me share the day with you.

Kim and I set up the training kitchen with 30 minutes to spare before the class started.

Training Kitchen Setup
Training Kitchen Setup

The cost per student was $130, and they received a 30 minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit, two wooden cheese boards, and all the cheese they made on the day.

We had great feedback from the students that it was great value for money and that they only booked on it because they learnt how to make three cheeses in a day.

The Students

So lets meet these students shall we?

Emily and Petar
Emily and Petar

Emily and Petar were a lovely couple who were from Melbourne.  Both had a wonderful thirst for cheese knowledge and asked many pertinent questions during the day.

Pip and Margaret
Pip and Margaret

Gavin (that’s me), with Pip and Margaret.  Pip travelled from Melbourne, however Margaret travelled all the way from Biloela in Queensland!  She is one dedicated curd nerd.  Both had a great sense of humor and it made the day a pleasure.

The Cheese

So let’s have a look at the cheese that everyone made.

Before we touched the first drop of milk, I taught them how to sanitize their cheese making equipment and utensils and how to keep their work areas clean during the cheese making session.  They sanitized all their gear in between each session to ensure hygienic practices.

Paneer was the first cheese they made.  To make this cheese, you are required to boil the milk then add natural yoghurt and lemon juice.

Preventing the milk from burning
Preventing the milk from burning

Unfortunately it took a little longer than expected, because the electric stoves we had a hand in the training kitchen wouldn’t get hot enough to boil the milk!  I’ve never had this issue on a gas stove top.

It was starting to burn on the bottom, so I quickly made an executive decision and instructed them to add the extra ingredients at 90-95°C.

It’s then drained and pressed between two boards with 2kg of weight.

Pressing Paneer
Pressing Paneer

Fortunately, this worked and after 30 minutes of pressing in butter muslin, all students created their own Paneer.  I think they were going to make a curry to use it in.

Paneer being cut
Paneer being cut

Next cheese was Ricotta, which I don’t have any photos of.  Suffice it to say that everyone’s Ricotta was successful, some making it really soft and others making it a little firmer.  I have a special recipe that allows you to vary the softness of this cheese, which all students got to take home.  There was so much of it, that each batch just fit into their 1 litre containers.

After lunch we made the final cheese, Mozzarella.  This cheese only takes about 30 minutes to make and is of the pasta filata family of cheese.

All students were successful, although Petar need a hand to form the cheese for stretching (I don’t think his milk was acidic enough).  As it was his first try, he was still happy with the result and knew how to fix it next time he makes Mozzarella.

Gavin lending a hand to make mozzarella
Gavin lending a hand to make mozzarella

Once the curd has been stretched and formed into balls, they immersed the balls into iced water to cools down quickly so they keep their shape.

Mozzarella in iced water
Mozzarella in iced water

Here are some Mozzarella that Margaret made, ready to take home.

Mozzarella by Margaret
Mozzarella by Margaret

Success!

Each proud student asked me to sample their cheese, and all were as I expected; delicious.

At the end of the day’s class, the students volunteered to wash up which was unexpected, but very welcome.

I had a few cheese making items for sale at the end of the class.  Mostly books and gear that wasn’t supplied in the kit that we have for sale at Little Green Workshops.

Cheese gear for sale
Cheese gear for sale

Everyone were so happy with their cheese and the course that we even had class photos!

Emily and Petar with their cheese
Emily and Petar with their cheese

Here is Emily and Petar with their cheese.  Emily is holding her cheese in the following order, Paneer (top), Whole milk Ricotta (middle), and Mozzarella (bottom).  That’s Pip in the background photobombing!

Before they all went their separate ways we had a class photo.  There were smiles all round.

Beginners Cheesemaking Course
Beginners Cheesemaking Class Photo: L to R; Petar, Emily, Gavin, Pip, and Margaret.

Both Kim and I had so much fun during the day.  It felt so good imparting my cheese making knowledge and at the end, I shook each person’s hand and dubbed them an official curd nerd 🙂

Anyway, so far this school term, our course has been extremely popular.  We had only planned to teach one course this quarter, however due to demand, we put on another class on 5th June, which has subsequently been booked out.

We were then asked to schedule another Beginners Cheesemaking course for 7th May, which now half full and only has two places spare.

I think we’ve hit upon a winning cheese class formula!  We were even asked by Margaret to see if we could teach an advanced cheese making class, so we are giving it some thought.  It may have to be held over two days.

So, well done to our four new curd nerds.  May there be many more cheese to come!

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