I may have mentioned before, but in case you missed it, I love making cheese. In fact I love it so much that a few years ago, once I had about 20 varieties under my belt, I thought it was high time to pass on my cheese making skills.
That’s one of the reasons why I started the Little Green Cheese website & Podcast, and why Kim and I started our small business, Little Green Workshops. We have added other courses besides cheese making, but my favourite is our Mozzarella & Ricotta workshop. I have so much fun, and I believe (from all reports) that the students have a ball as well.
Let me walk you through the setup from a class I taught yesterday. One of the venues we teach at is the Melton South Community Centre which has recently moved into a new premises (just across the road). It has a massive training kitchen with lots of bench space and two stoves. Ideal for a smallish sized cheese making class.
There was also room to put a couple of trestle tables that allowed space for two microwave ovens.
It also has two sinks which makes draining curds and whey a cinch.
So, we had the space to teach five eager people who wanted to learn the art of cheesemaking.
Firstly after a showing all the ingredients and a sanitisation brief, I gave a Ricotta demonstration that took about 30 minutes. As I was using pasteurised/homogenised milk, it wouldn’t play the game and curdle, so I had to add extra acid and in the end I got desperate and added a little rennet and left it to stand for about 30 minutes. That seemed to do the trick, and the 4 litres of milk yielded about 600gm of creamy, albeit tangy, whole milk Ricotta. Kim is going to use it to make her Chocolate Ricotta tart tomorrow. Yum!
After a quick walk-through of the Mozzarella recipe, it was now the student turn to have a go at making cheese.
I find it best if we all step through the procedure together, firstly measuring all the ingredients into cups and diluted with the required amount of pure water. Then I guide them through heating the milk, adding each ingredient, and finally draining the curds and heating it up for stretching.
Once it is stretched, they then lightly knead unto shiny, form into one large ball (mozzarella) or little balls (boccaccini) which are then dunked into iced water so that it cools quickly and maintains its shape.
It is about this time that the students get their first taste of real cow’s milk mozzarella. Smiles all round!
And oh, the wonderful Mozzarella! Some of you who follow my cheese blog may have seen Darren before. He featured in Episode 4 of Season 2 of the Little Green Cheese Podcast. This is one man who loves making cheese as much as I do.
Once everyone have washed up their pots, I invite them to peruse my little on site shop. I always take along a few things to sell, because someone always wants to make more cheese when they get home! I remind them that there is a comprehensive range of cheesemaking kits, ingredients, and equipment over at Little Green Workshops if they get bitten by the turophile bug.
We then say our goodbyes and I start cleaning up the kitchen. I like to leave it cleaner than when I arrived, because it helps the community centre out. It is the least I can do.
So there you have it. That is how Operation Mozzarella & Ricotta panned out yesterday. Loads of fun, and a great way to spend a day off on the weekend.
Did I mention that I loved making cheese?