Why a Schedule?
In 2011 I decided to set myself a curriculum of 9 of my favorite cheeses. I would explore how they
were made traditionally. I would learn their history. I would find recipes that would really bring out their flavor and
experiment with different recipes. And I would learn the science behind cheesemaking, what this science adds to
making a superior cheese, and where instinct and tradition are supreme.
Or.. at least I'd try to do those things.
So I set myself a schedule: a different cheese every week, rotating 9 cheese types through 18 to 27
weeks of cheesemaking. It worked well and I learned a lot. So I set myself the same goal, but with
slightly different cheeses, for 2012.
Cheeses from 2011 included: Roquefort and Feta, Montasio, Cheddar, Parmesan, Tomme, Scalded Curd (an
old cheese from a 1630's recipe!), Romano, Jack and Gruyere. Also included were chevre and Mozarella.
In 2012 I studied: Parmesan, Colby, Scalded Curd, Tomme, Cheddar, Romano, Gruyere, Asiago and Manchego.
Softer cheeses included feta, roquefort and castello blue, chevre and mozarella. As you can see many
of the cheeses are the same year to year, because I love them so much. Basics are stock Italian cheeses,
like Parmesan and that English workhorse - Cheddar.
In 2013 I continued with the standards, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere (or another Swiss type) and Romano. I also added
Manchego, Asiago, Tomme and Colby to the list.
In 2014 I added another new cheese to my list of stock cheeses: Cabra al Vino. I have to say, I ADORE this cheese.
2015 and most of 2016 have seen me slow down in the cheesemaking. This is partly due to a bit of fatigue, partly because
my wonderful husband was learning how to become an artisanal bread-maker and cheesemaking and bread making don't mix well (at
least in our house), and partly because we didn't have a lot of does breed for 2016.
However, in late 2016 I got back into cheesemaking and am making herbed and seasoned chevre every few weeks! In 2017 there will be a revival
in cheesemaking at FoxDog! And I am planning for 2017 to be a good year indeed!
2016 and 2017 Schedule/Curriculum
The aim in late 2016 and throughout 2017 is to teach myself how to make Spanish and Hispanic cheeses. I probably will never be
able to get away from my beloved Italian cheeses, but I am terribly intrigued by Mexican and South American cheeses. And I love Spanish
cheeses. One thing that really attracts me to these are the ranges of milk used in their making. Spain is good sheep and goat country!
An added bonus is I recently have been refreshing my much neglected learnings in the Spanish language. I used to be very fluent, but
that was years ago. I am slowly working my way back to fluency. Before speaking, at least for me, comes reading. And I can read
Spanish well. So I am delving into the histories and recipes for these cheeses. More to come as I learn!
The schedule is always ambitious. Circumstances often change the schedule, such as bread making or goat keeping or whatever.
Every couple of weeks or so I make chevre along with the main cheese or mozarella a few days after the main cheese.
I am trying to use natural rinds, or the rinds appropriate for the cheese. This means a lot of rubbing,
de-scurfing (as I found one writer from the 1800s calling it) and washing or bathing with brines. So far, these
rinds are working out quite well.
The dates are approximate. I generally try to make cheese once a week to 10 days. Sometimes I don't keep to that.
Making every one of these cheeses is a multi-day project. From the renneting of the cheese to putting it into
the mould for it's final press may take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours. The next day or so the cheese is removed from
the press and either brined or set out to dry. After the cheese is dry (or removed from the brine and dried) it is
sent to the aging 'cave'. Every night I rub the cheeses down in the 'cave' to remove any unwanted molds, etc, and
turn them. This goes on for at least the first two months of the life of the cheese, after which the cheese can be turned
every few days, and rubbed when needed.
I am trying to train myself to consider it a natural chore to make cheese once a week. To help with this,
I'm studying the lives of traditional farm wives. For some reason it's easier to do chores when I think
about them being grounded in history and tradition.
In winter the milk production of the does goes down. Also, my drive to milk reduces a bit, ahem, as well. Too cold, too rainy, too wanting
to be inside. I often combine the milk I'm getting from my goats with locally produced raw cow's milk. Sometimes I use unhomgenized (but,
alas, pasteurized) cream-top milk from the grocery store.