Make Your Own Cheese; It’s Easier than You Think!
I was lucky to get a place on Mark and Sarah Hardy’s Saturday Cheese-making Course as they fill up very quickly!
There were seven of us on the Course and we all quickly got on well together. Mark and Sarah create a very friendly atmosphere.
I’ve known Mark and Sarah for many years, but I’d never seen their cheese being made, so I was very interested to learn all about their cheese-making secrets!
We arrived at 9.30am for coffee in their Cheese Barn, ready for a 10am start.
Mark began with a talk about the history of their cheese-making business.
Although they’ve been in business for a long time, he is as fresh and enthusiastic as though he’d just started! Sarah stood by, telling him to get on with the course as we were falling behind schedule!
Mark Hardy has had over 25 years experience in cheese making, using cow, sheep and goat milk, covering most cheese types and is passionate about cheese. He explains the process in simple down to earth language and ensures everyone has a relaxed but educational day and leaves with the knowledge and confidence to make cheese at home.
Gary; our newest cheesemaker, and a fully trained chef, Gary will be backing up Mark and Chris, and also cooking a freshly prepared Lunch.
Making cheese always gives one an appetite!
Lunch is followed by a Cheese tasting of several of our cheeses.
Although not a cheese maker, Sarah organises us all and makes sure that everyone attending is happy and looked after, and feels at home on the day.
We were advised to start with pasteurised milk, then progress to raw milk later.
Gary had already prepared the milk for us. We had to put the lid on and leave it until the temperature reached 24.3.
‘Why does my thermometer say Eh2?’ I asked.
Gary turned it round. I’d had it upside-down! It actually said 24.3.
The Dairy works with 2,000-3,000 litres at a time.
You can buy starter culture online for around £8 and freeze it into ice cubes.
Halloumi, which is the Dairy’s best-seller, doesn’t need a starter culture. It’s unlike other cheeses as it doesn’t melt when you cook it.
For a selection of Halloumi recipes, look at B-C-in-U! I’ve already published them, but I’ll re-publish them tomorrow.
Rennet is a living culture. It’s an enzyme.
Animal rennet is made from calves’ stomachs.
Originally, nomads stored milk in calves’ stomachs, and found it made curds and whey. Then they added salt and it tasted delicious!
The Dairy uses a vegetarian rennet, which is a fungus.
One rennet tablet = 20 litres of milk.
Add rennet to your milk and stir slowly, then place the lid on.
A steel pan is a good heat retainer.
Mark uses a lot of sheep’s cheese, which most people with dairy intolerance can eat instead of cow’s milk. And it’s low in cholesterol.
Freesians are the best sheep for milk supply.
Jacobs’ sheep don’t give much milk, but it’s creamier.
1 litre of cheese gives 9 litres of whey.
3 ½ litres of sheep’s milk = 1 kilo of cheese.
Our pans of milk were ready.
From the middle you make even cuts into small cubes.
The finer you cut the cubes, the harder the cheese will be.
Using a scoop, lift it into a cheese cloth over a bucket and gently move the cloth to release the liquid whey.
We had a delicious lunch of quiche, hams, and salad, with edible flowers and a selection of cheeses, of course!
Gary sealed our cheeses while we ate, which we were given to take home with us.
We were advised to keep the Cheddar for several months.
We also made soft cheese, which dates back to Medieval times and is edible almost at once. But it’s best after turning it over for several days.
You can add flavourings of your choice to the soft cheese, eg lemon peel, garlic, herbs, etc.
Mark showed us how to make butter, patting it with two wooden paddles. It looked very simple, after a few practices.
We were given a tour of the Dairy. It takes a lot of work to keep everything clean and sterile, especially in the country!
The machines are all very expensive and specialised, but they save a lot of time.
I took home a bottle of whey.
I’m surprised that it’s not used a lot more. It has more of a tang than milk. It makes lovely bread, scones, and smoothy drinks.
I used it in my porridge with honey and it’s highly recommended!
No, I’m not going to give away all their secrets, so if you want to learn about making cheese, you need an unusual gift, or you just fancy a great day out, contact;
High Weald Dairy LLP
TEL 01825 791636
Fax 01825 791641