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A short video about making cheese in Slovenia:

Traditional home-made Slovenian cheesemaking - YouTube

A challenge for you: There are still 4 more days (until May 17th) to earn a free meal and a t-shirt at Wheel in Pottsville, PA by eating a grilled cheese sandwich with 1 pound(!) of cheese on it + a bowl of tomato soup.  (click here)

Just for fun: If you have 5 minutes, episodes of The Great Cheese Hunt are a fun way to learn about cheese dishes from around the world.  Caution: If you’re hungry, it’s absolute torture to watch the hosts savor their fabulous, gooey meals.  (click here)

New micro-creamery: We love to hear about new creameries and Louella Hill has just opened a small one (with a cheese club CSA) in Staunton, Virginia.  (click here)

French cheese war: A change in the law, negotiated last year and scheduled to go into effect in 2021, will allow industrial cheese makers to make Camembert with pasteurized milk, using the coveted AOP label (protected designation of origin).  Needless to say, the French people are taking to the streets in protest.  (click here)

Recipe of the month: This simple asparagus quiche made in a cast iron skillet caught our attention:

Cast-Iron Cheesy Asparagus Quiche • Tasty - YouTube

What’s a tidbit?

A tidbit is a little piece of something BIG and that something is the big, big world of cheese. We know you’re kinda busy making your own “fabulous fromage,” so, every month (around the 15th), we scour the Web for you, picking out new items of interest and giving you the links. If we missed something, let us know at info@cheesemaking.com or in the comments below.

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Yoel Blumenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel created this box for drying cheese and was kind enough to send us the directions.  We will be interviewing Yoel for the June 1st Moos-Letter (Spotlight section), but we wanted to get this out to you ASAP.

Yoel Blumberger cutting Castelmagno at a dairy in Italy.

Yoel has told us that he will be happy to answer any questions for you (or entertain any new ideas) in the comment section below.

Building a Drying Box by Yoel Blumberger

There are cheeses, which need a long time (3 days or so) of drying in temperatures of 80-82F (26-28C) and yogurt needs even a higher temperature.  Some need just ventilation for drying.  Lately, I made my first Georgian cheese and used my oven to provide such an environment but this was very inconvenient and inaccurate, as I had to start and stop the oven every couple of hours trying to maintain the temperature.  Therefore, I decided to make my life easier and I built a very simple but convenient and accurate drying box.  It relies on three main components:

A. Material – Wooden box front opening door – ordered for measure or by DIY.

B. Instrument – A small and very cheap thermostat easy to install and use.  It supports two operation modes: cooling or heating, although in our implementation we need only heating mode.  This means that the room temperature is less than the target (see the cycle description at the end of the article).

C. Heat source – Two G9 (25W) small halogen light bulbs.  If you are an electricity expert, you can use a heating coil instead.

The drying box works very simply.  You put the cheese in the box over a tray (serves to hold the dripping whey and/or to contain water for raising humidity when only heating without drying is needed).  Connect the thermostat to an outlet, fix the target temperature and off you go.

That Georgian cheese, for example, is being left in the box for 3 days, hassle free, maintaining constant 82°F.  You have to open the box once a day just for turning the cheese (automatic cheese turning is planned for the next generation of the box (-: ).  The box serves well also for cheeses that contain Propionic Shermanii to produce the holes during first maturation stage and the high temperature is crucial for their development.  In this case, if humidity is also needed, putting some water into the tray will elevate the humidity.


1. Wooden box, made for order
2. Thermostat
3. Electrical wiring – wires, plug
4. Tray and net as base for cheese mat (I used a stainless steel tray that is already in use in the dairy)
5. 2 x Light bulb G9 25W + bulb holder + connectors to the box (Any small bulb that can heat and with the same capacity (around 25W) is ok, even if not LED)
6. Small computer case or power supply fan – (I cannibalized one from an old nonfunctional computer but a new one will be less than $10.)
7. Two pieces of 4″x 4″ of aluminum foil
8. Optional – Varnish (environmental friendly – water based)

Instruments for full or partial DIY:

1. Jig saw
2. Screwdriver
3. Drilling machine

Building the drying box

1. Decide on size (dimensions).

The size of the box depends mainly on the size and quantity of the cheeses you want to put into it. My box is (inner size) 17″ wide 13″ deep and 8″ high (converted from cm and rounded). It can contain 1-5 cheeses depending on their size. The given instructions are for making this box, but you can easily change them for making a bigger or smaller box. The box width should be a little bit more than the tray’s size to allow the tray’s free in-and-out movement.

2. Build the box or buy it and connect bulb holders.

The box can be made of simple wood or another finish (like Formica) as long it is safe and does not emit toxic stuff. If you want to paint the box, do it before you start working on it. Use nontoxic, water-based varnish and let it dry. You can order it complete with all openings needed, or build it by yourself or combine, for example by IKEA hacking (which means buy the basis and then do the final adaptation by yourself). The door can be one with hinges or one that can be totally disconnected from the box.

Connect the two bulb holders to the top. Start by making a hole in the middle of the left side of the top 4″ from the edge. Attach a bulb holder through the hole. Repeat for the right side of the top for the second bulb holder.

3. Install the thermostat and the bulbs.

Attention!  This is the stage in which you will start to connect to the power.  Be sure that you know what to do or else find someone to help you.  Do not leave any connection exposed!

You may now try to operate the system before connecting it to the box.  Learn how to operate the thermostat, connect the bulb holders to the thermostat, fix the bulbs and see that the thermostat turns the bulbs on and off according change in the temperature.  Glue one piece of aluminum foil on the middle of the inner upper side of each sidewall near the bulb.  This will serve to protect the wood from the bulb’s heat and radiate the heat into the box.  After mastering the system, you are ready to connect it to the box.

A. Drill a small hole in the center of the rear edge of the top of the box.  Enter the temperature probe (which is connected to the thermostat) into the box through the hole.  Attach it to the inner side of the rear of the box with tape.

B. Attach the thermostat to the front part of the top.

C. Connect the thermostat to the electrical outlet and check that everything is functioning.

Bulb holders with bulbs, temperature probe, window on the right, fan on the left, protective aluminum foils.  Thermostat on the top left side.

4. Make a window and install the fan.

This stage can be executed before stage 2 during the building of the box or right after purchasing it, depending on your preference.

A. Window- Make an opening 2″x 2″ in the middle of the right sidewall near the bottom.  Make a cover from any material you have: wood, cardboard etc. that can close the opening.  Glue a 3″x 3″ piece of netting or cheese mat on the inner side to cover the opening.  The window can be open to let fresh air inside while the net prevents insects and other bad stuff from entering the box.  Or, the window can be closed.

B. Fan – Make an opening for the fan on the left sidewall – my fan needed a round, 3 1/4″ (82 mm) diameter opening.  Insert the fan into it.  Use a small amount of glue or 4 screws (depends on the fan you have) in order to connect it well.  Make a cover that will prevent the entering of air or insects when the fan is not operating.  Pay attention and install the fan in the needed direction so it will draw air out from the box and not the opposite.  When you are using the fan, you must open the opposite window to let new, dry, fresh air enter the box.  The fan can run on a 9V battery or on AC/DC converter using the grid, which will be cheaper.

Fan and fan cover.

Your box is ready for action!

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Our friend, Mariana Veiga sent us this recipe and we absolutely love it!  Mari is from Brazil originally and now she and her husband and 5 year old son are living in Bled, Slovenia.

Mari used to be a lawyer but she wanted a more creative lifestyle (and one where she could travel) so she became a digital marketer and graphic designer.  She believes in the concept of traveling with kids and, to promote that, she has a website – The Veigas.  It’s written in Portuguese, but you can check her out on Facebook –  www.facebook.com/theveigas and Instagram – http://instagram.com/the_veigas.

The Veigas have traveled extensively to many parts of the world including the Amazon and South Africa.  In fact, we first interviewed Mari in 2017 when she was making cheese with nomads in Mongolia (click here).  Then, they moved to Italy and while there, she sent us her recipe for a Brazilian treat called Brigadeiro (click here).

Now, they are happily settled in Slovenia and Mari is preparing to make cheese again.

She said you can use any cheese you wish with the recipe below, but the harder ones (like Parmesan) work better.  She said you can eat them plain (the usual) or you can fill them with whatever you want (like jelly, ham, cream cheese, etc.).  Thank you, Mari!

Mari’s Pao de Queijo

1/2 cup milk
2 oz. (1/2 stick or 4 Tbsps) butter
7 oz. (1 1/2 cups) polvilho azedo (This is a “sour starch,” made specifically for this bread and you can order it on Amazon – (click here).  It is gluten-free.  Or, you can substitute tapioca flour which is also gluten-free.)
7 oz. (2 cups) cheese (shredded)
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 360F (180C).

Heat the milk with the butter until it starts to boil.

Pour the liquid into the polvilho and mix with a spoon until it is cool enough to use your hands (it will look like pie dough).

Add the cheese.

Add the egg.

Shape into small balls.

Bake until they become golden (35-40 minutes).  (You can bake them in a mini-muffin pan if you want.)

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Did you know about the very cool Imsil Cheese Theme Park in South Korea?

News alert in Minnesota:  A dairy farmer is playing mommy to 3 kids since their mother was stolen from his barn Tuesday.  He wants help from the public to find the goat-napper.  (click here)

New book:  “Fromages – An Expert’s Guide to French Cheeses” written by master cheese maker, Dominique Bouchait.  (click here)

Will they ship?  4 Cheese Focaccia is the big draw at a new bakery in Hell’s Kitchen, New York called Angelina.  (click here)

Cheese rolling May 27th in Gloucester, UK:   If you have no idea what a cheese rolling is, here’s a fun video of “The World’s Stupidest Competition.”  (click here)

Best sandwich:   Check out this grilled cheese recipe from Food & Wine (Friday was National Grilled Cheese Day).  (click here)

Job opportunity:  80 miles from England in the Channel Islands:

The Island of Sark Needs a Dairy Farmer - YouTube

What’s a tidbit?

A tidbit is a little piece of something BIG and that something is the big, big world of cheese. We know you’re kinda busy making your own “fabulous fromage,” so, every month (around the 15th), we scour the Web for you, picking out new items of interest and giving you the links. If we missed something, let us know at info@cheesemaking.com or in the comments below.

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At the goat festival in Perryville, AR last summer.

We got goats because my husband is lactose intolerant and I always wanted them.

Lucy in 2011.

We moved to Arkansas in 2010 from SW Florida – bought property and created a farm.  Neither of us or our families were “farm” people but I’ve always been an animal lover and have wanted the Homestead life.

With her donkey, Rudy Vallentino in 2011.

We have an abundance of milk so – cheese!!  One goat turned into several, more cheese supplies, a milk room, you know it mushrooms…

Cheese press made from our “Off the Wall Press Plans

When the milk flows, I get the pigs – great for excess, whey and mistakes.  We have the best tasting bacon!!

I still have a lot to learn with cheese but I keep trying.  This week I made a cheddar and mixed in diced sun dried tomatoes and messing with vegetable ash and soft cheese.  Not sure of results yet.

Cheddar with black oil cured olive.

We still have outside jobs off the farm – I work in the radiology department of the local hospital as an X-ray tech and also at a local restaurant (American Artisans) and my husband is a nurse at a nursing home.

Still marvel though at making a pizza with our own sauce, garden veggies and my own cheese!

Salad bar.

It is very satisfying to go into the root cellar and see lined up mason jars with the fruit of your labor, wheels of cheese in the “cave” and a freezer full of homegrown meat.

blue starting its aging.

Right now, I am milking 4 goats, 3 Oberhaslis and an Alpine.

Sweet Pea looking more than ready to be a mama in January.

I also have a herd of meat goats (around 20), 2 horses, a donkey, not sure how many chickens, 2 Duroc pigs and will be adding a miniature Jersey May 3rd.  She is a first time freshener so I’ll be teaching her (and me!) about milking.  She is due to calf in September.

Chicks from a Fog Horn Leg Horn rooster.


Doing chores in the morning.

My long range goal for cheese is to make a mild, slice-able everyday cheese that will be my go-to recipe that I can say “boy that’s just perfect!”  I would also like to attend a workshop one day and visit an artisan cheese dairy to see if that will be my retirement job!

With her grandson, Maddox a year ago.

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Imran with his daughter, Mehren and his wife, Ayesha

We first wrote about our friend, Imran Saleh in February, 2013 when he was making cheese in his home (click here).  Within a few years, he had created the first artisan cheese business in Pakistan, while still working full time at his longtime business – Faisal Traders.  Now, Imran is a full time cheese maker with many employees.

Our last update article about Imran was in May, 2017 – http://blog.cheesemaking.com/imran-saleh-expanding-again/.  He had just moved his business into a new, air conditioned facility.

Since then, he has expanded his product line and his marketing.  His business is thriving.

When we told him we were doing this update article, Imran wanted us to share this with you:

I guess I never shared with you that when I was trying my hands at cheese making in 2012, my wife was totally pissed off by my hobby since I was making a lot of mess in the kitchen.  Eventually she had to kick me out of the kitchen and I moved to a room at the back of my home.

It was not not much later when I was kicked out from there, too, and I made my first small cheese facility which you have covered in your blog.

Today I call it “Kick to Success.”  We both enjoy this and laugh at the past and I am so grateful to her – had she not thrown my hobby out of our home, I would have ended up as a hobbiest cheese maker.

Secondly, all this success was not sudden – I made lots of mistakes, but I learned.  I failed hundreds of times, but I raised up and tried again the next day.  I found out that I never liked my business, Faisal Traders.  It was a way to earn a living and I was pushing myself to be a money making machine.

Today I am a leading name in artisan cheese making in Pakistan.  Today, I am living my life and I am satisfied and happy.

My message to everyone is that life is once.  Live your life.  Be positive and, if possible, do in life what you want to do.  Take risks, face failures, face attitudes but keep doing what you want to do.  Either you will become successful or not but at least you will feel happier in life.

Imran has always kept in touch with us, never failing to wish us well at all our holidays, etc.   The update below is composed of quotes from his emails.

June, 2017

This is a month of Ramadan for Muslims and we all fast.  One day more to go and then we will celebrate the Eid festival (which will be June 5th in 2019).  For this Eid, I introduced a cheese platter, which was a big hit and we are over busy with orders.  It’s going to be a tsunami in the next few months.  People are using it as gifts and a valued addition for their dining tables.

Lahore is very warm these days, around 108F (42C).  The air conditioning unit is a blessing for me in this season.  Surprisingly, there is not much decline in the cheese orders due to the unbearable heat.

I wish you could try my cheeses.  Since I make cheese from unpasteurized milk, it’s the best taste you can find anywhere.

I have found that unpasteurized cheese is the safest thing on earth – it’s only the working conditions which can produce bad bacteria.  If proper sanitation and hygiene is adopted, it’s as safe as any other food.  Any food which is processed in a bad hygienic environment can develop bad bacteria – cheese is not any special case.  I have been eating raw milk cheese for the last 5 years and I feel much better than I did in previous years.

Last year, I started making goat milk cheeses but, due to a scarcity of goat milk, I gave up the project.  That’s the reason I want to raise my own goats and I would love to have a personal goat farm.

Right now, I am focused on spreading my cheese into the country.  Our eating habits in Pakistan are very different.  People like oily, spicy food and they like to eat in quantity.  I want them to eat healthy cheeses with fruit and nuts, for breakfast and dinners and to return to healthy living.  That might sound crazy, but that’s how I am.

July, 2017

As I told you, I have moved to my new cheese facility which is a controlled unit with much bigger capacity for cheese making.  From outside it’s just an ordinary house, but when you enter the cheese facility, you get a feel of Italy or Switzerland.  You might be surprised at how Italy is so “in” in our culture – it’s because of the Italian foods people love to eat.

Since my passion is transformed into business, I intend to achieve a target of processing 2,642 gallons (10,000 liters) of milk daily, though, at the moment, it’s below 264 gallons (1,000 liters).  Targets are high this time, so let’s see if I can climb this mountain.

We are a team of 6 people who I have thoroughly trained.  I am always scared of losing employees, so I always hire one or two extra.  This enables me to focus on other hard issues.

I am proud to tell you that after going through trial and errors, I have managed to make a wonderful cream cheese which is just cheese.

A few restaurants are on-board and they make cream cheese cakes out of it with great satisfaction.  It is much denser in nature then any other cream cheese.  I have also developed a number of flavors including garlic peppers, olives, figs, walnuts and raisins, cheddar, Taleggio cream cheese, almonds and a blue cheese, too.

We now produce 40 assorted cheeses.

December, 2017

“We are children of the world …watching every day go by … changes my life, changes your life, keeps us anticipating…”  This Bee-gees song (my favorite) was playing as I was driving back from Islamabad after attending g a Christmas gala at the German embassy.  The ambassador was dressed as Santa and we had people from different nations.

The German ambassador with Imran

I was invited for this occasion by my German friend, Claus Euler who makes and sells wonderful German sourdough breads.  Our stall was the hit of the day and we sold out every piece.

Business is continuously increasing.  I have to built a cold storage within 1 -2 months to meet the demand.  People are becoming aware of the difference between non-processed and processed.

By the way, my cheddar, halloumi, buffalo mozzarella, and cream cheese are best sellers.

I started making raclette for a high end cafe and I am producing a reasonable quantity of it.

The cheese “ Cambrie Jerry “ is suddenly recognized by the same cafe and I have 44 pounds (20 kg) order per month now.  It resembles brick cheese and they tried it on pizza.

Hopefully, in coming years, FCM will be the largest artisan, non-processed cheese producer in the country. Many others are getting inspired and trying their hands at making cheese.  A few are selling at farmer’s markets, too.  Thus, an era of cheese making has started here in Pakistan.

April, 2018

I was doing the farmer’s market in Lahore up until last year.


Since now the business has improved 1000 fold, I and my team are too busy to meet the demand.  We are working around the clock and it’s increasing day by day, leaving no time for having stalls in farmer’s markets.

To me, farmer’s markets (FM) are wonderful platforms, especially for selling and introducing cheese.  Here you are face to face with end users and you get realistic feedback right away due to offering free tastes.  Since its a limited market, you get the right audience and their feedback helps you improve if you are a passionate cheese maker.

I not only used to sell small portions, but we were making goody bags including various cheeses in small portions so that people could taste many of them at home and decide which ones suited their taste pallets.

May, 2018

I was busy, busy and very busy in upgrading our facility which is now a proper bulk manufacturing unit.  We have chillers and cold storage, a completely computerized system, an office (however we are shifting the office into a business area soon), an accounting office, a general manager, a supervisor and everything which a small industry requires.  So, from the kitchen to an industry is a journey accomplished.

Finally, we are successful in negotiations with a famous chain of food marts and soon our cheese will be selling at 9 different locations – pre-packed as well as live cutting and selling.  It was a big mission to accomplish this and finally we are on the way to spread our skills in the country.

August, 2018

Today my company is selling cheese at many super stores with live stations where we offer it for customers to taste and purchase.  A large variety of artisan cheeses are sold over the counter. This is turning into a trend and many other stores are contacting us for such displays.  Eventually, we will take it to all the major cities, turning FCM into a brand.

All this is not so easy.  Despite large man power including cheese makers, packing guys, managers and general manager, we still have to work 10-12 hrs daily.  But, my team which was trained by me are dedicated and hard workers and we come out ahead of problems.

There are other artisan cheese makers too, in Pakistan now, including a few trained by me.  I feel happy to have given Pakistan other artisan cheese makers.

Today we are turning into a brand and I enjoy cheese making more then ever. We are not only spreading fast but I believe soon we shall be exporting our products to other countries.  In another few years, I plan to make a model dairy farm with the cheese facility on the site, producing cheese at international standards.

Goals are big, targets are high, the journey is tough, but hopes are high, too.  I feel wonderful when people I don’t even know, meet me and show their love and respect.  I feel so humbled.

We asked for more information about the display cases:

At all the stores we have a live station to taste and to purchase.

There we keep all types of fresh and mature cheeses, from small sizes – 7 ounces (200 g) to 1 1/2 pound (2/3 kg) blocks.

I give the display chillers to the stores.  The stores provide vertical coolers where the cheese is stored.

Tastings are from 9am to 12pm and there are 2 employees for 2 shifts.  The people behind the counter are hired by my own company.

Our supervisor visits all the stores in our delivery van almost every day.  He carries stock in styrofoam boxes and he replaces and collects the products that are close to expiring.  Usually fresh cheeses tend to expire in a week , but luckily we have very few cheeses come back to the factory.  For inventory, we use both software and paper work.

We are in contract with these stores to be the only artisan cheese company in their chains.

In the beginning, it was difficult since everything was new to us, but we managed to build a system which is running smoothly now.  We have display stations at 3 stores and now we are ready to add 2 more.  The plan is to start with at least 20 stores in Lahore and another 30 in different cities in Pakistan.

Now, also, we are starting contracts with restaurants which purchase bulk from us.  Having a cold store has helped me to maintain a big stock of almost 2 tons only for mature cheeses. This is now helping me to open new counters at more stations without much pressure.

Fresh cheeses are produced on a daily basis.

To reach this far, one needs to walk extra miles, but I never underestimate competition, though I believe everyone gets rewarded proportional to the efforts made.  I wish my competitors good luck since they are also adding value to the art of artisan cheese making in Pakistan and now people have choice and availability of a large variety of non-processed cheese which was not known few years back .

November, 2018

Life is very busy and time flies. It has been around 8 continuous years of making cheese on a daily basis. “Farmers Cheese Making “ is now a brand in at least 2 major cities. We are selling cheese at counters and in shelves in many (10) branded stores with a number of sales girls and sales boys who are specially trained for this purpose.  I have a target of 40 such locations in Lahore as well as Karachi and Islamabad.  I hope to get it done within 2019.

Our field staff is trained for offering tasting sessions and promotions.  Non-processed, artisan cheeses are making their way to the general public and we are now considered a trusted company. We have developed an IT office to handle day to day operations and everything is now computerized.

Being on shelves in the retail business is a tough job. We did face some serious issues at the early stages but now we are trained to handle multiple food tastings at various locations and even in different cities.  I am grateful to the dedicated team and friends who made this happen.  I truly love them.  We often work 10 to 12 hrs and sometimes without taking a day off.  But, we all enjoy the success which comes after collective efforts and struggle.

I wish you were here and could see us busy like bees. We have trained ourselves to work in pressure situations.  I saw this dream, and it started becoming a truth within a decade. More equipment is being fixed to increase production, and the factory is being extended to another floor.  I still read the Moos-letter and enjoy to see how cheese is being loved everywhere.  When it comes to cheese,  the world is a global village.

BTW, the Keto diet (short for ketogenic) is quite “in” here these days.  It is a low sugar, low carb diet with lots of fats.  This helps to reduce weight significantly and quickly.  No sugar, no flour, no ice creams or cold drinks, no milk, no fruits, nothing which helps produce insulin in your body.  After..

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Vivian and her husband, Tom Gory

Vivian Lucero knows a thing or two about making cheese.  She seems to have tried every recipe on our website!  And, from her pictures, it appears that it all went well.

That’s impressive considering she’s entirely self-taught.  She’s hoping someday to take a cheese making class, but we think she might already know enough to teach one!

Vivian’s Story

We live on the Oregon Coast where the climate is wetter and colder than in the Portland area where we moved from.  While it’s great for making cheese, gardening here is more challenging and we love to garden as well. Our little garden here consists mostly of a few garden beds and pots for vegetables and herbs and provides all two people need.

We have a sloped wooded property on the river which makes gardening a challenge, not to mention we have lots of hungry deer, raccoons and other critters.

Here we enjoy and harvest the resources of our area. We fish, harvest chanterelles and boletus mushrooms, go clamming and crabbing, pick blackberries and wild huckleberries and shop the
local farmer’s markets in season for the things we cannot grow.

Harvesting wild huckleberries on a sunny, fall day.

Cleaning his chanterelle harvest for the day. He picks and freezes enough chanterelles to last until the next season. Creamy mac & cheese with chanterelles anyone?

If you make cheese, you gotta make bread. Here are loaves of my freshly made cheese bread and Kalamata olive bread.

I have always enjoyed cooking and making everything I could from scratch. We always had a garden and I would either can, freeze, dry or pickle our harvest. My husband makes wonderful fermented pickles. I would make homemade roasted tomato sauce that would last until the next season and we would freeze berries and fruit for baking or making smoothies.

When we lived in Portland, I volunteered for our local food bank in the “learning garden” where we planted and produced thousands of pounds of produce for the food bank every year. We lucky volunteers also got to reap the rewards of our labor. One year I was given one plant each of 27 different varieties of tomatoes. That was a good year for sauce!

How she got started making cheese:

My husband and I retired in May of 2015, and moved from Portland, Oregon to the home his parents built and he grew up in on the Central Oregon coast. I was a florist and dabbled in catering and my husband was in the wine business. Like wine and cheese, we were a match made in heaven.

In January of 2016, we visited a friend in Washington State.  There was a small creamery in town and on our way home we stopped to buy some cheese. The room where the cheese was produced had glass walls so you could observe the process.  We then tasted a number of their cheeses and took several home. It was right then and there I knew I wanted to make my own cheese now that I had the time. That was the beginning.

As soon as we got home, I immersed myself in Cheese 101. I bought books, I watched just about every You-tube video there was on cheese making. I spent about a month teaching myself the basics of cheese making. I researched sources for milk and supplies then I went crazy buying cheese making supplies when I found your website and another in California. I started with the simple cheeses, like chevre, fromage blanc, mozzarella, ricotta etc. They were all a hit with our friends and family.

I then dared to step out of my comfort zone and make molded cheeses. At first, I mostly used the recipes from Artisan Cheese Making at Home because they were small batches and if
something went wrong, it wasn’t a big loss – just the cost of learning. I read the book cover-to-cover then I actually created a spreadsheet as a quick reference guide with most of the cheeses in the book.

I included the name of the cheese, the page number for the recipe, yield, type of milk, cultures and mold shapes and sizes and time to make and age the cheese. That way I could decide to make a cheese that only took a short time to make or to age without going through the entire book looking for just the right cheese to make. I didn’t want to start off making cheese that took 6 months to a year to age. I didn’t want to wait that long to learn it was a failure. It also served as a quick reference for making different cheeses using the same cultures I had on hand. It was quite a laborious task but in the end it was a big time saver and I still use it today.

I made my first molded cheese on February 18, 2016. That was the beginning of my cheese making.

My Stilton

My husband was in the wine business for 35 years and when I told him I needed to buy a  cheese press, he said, I think I have something you can use. It’s an old grape press. I love it; it
works well!

I use a two-part wine cooler for my cheese cave.  It works great!  I store my blues in the upper compartment and the rest in the lower compartment.  Since we live in a very cool climate with high humidity, I have also been known to store cheese in a camp cooler outside and in our bbq (in winter) when the cheese cooler is full.  That’s actually what I used before we bought the wine cooler.  It worked well and kept the cheese safe from critters like raccoons.

This is where I store some of my cheese supplies and cooler. Cooler is on bottom, basket organizer holds supplies like cheese cloth, cheese wrappers, wax etc. and on top is my cheese press. Lots more stuff is tucked away here and there.

Cheeses she has made:

Since making cheese, I have made many of the soft, quick cheeses; fromage blanc, chevre, mozzarella, ricotta. I have made halloumi cheese for a friend of ours from Turkey. I was quite surprised by it’s taste and texture and non-melting quality. I fried it and served it with a drizzle of olive oil and it was delicious.

Manchego. It was good but I could have aged it longer.

The first molded cheese I made was a brew curd cheddar.  My husband and I went to a local microbrew pub one day for lunch.  He knows the brew master and they were talking about some of
the newer beers he was making.  One of them was an Oatmeal Stout beer.  On came the light bulb and I decided to make brew curd cheddar with his beer.

Brew curd cheddar with Rogue Brewing Oatmeal Stout after pressed and dried.  It actually came out pretty good for my first pressed cheese.

Here is a picture of my latest white cheddar curd.

It’s part of the series with my cheese press in use pressing the cheddar curds.  That recipe is from the Gavin Webber (Certified Cheese Nerd from You-tube Cheeseman TV).  I learned most of my cheese making techniques just watching almost all of his videos when I first started making cheese.  I love this guy!  He’s really fun!  I have this cheese in my cooler now.  I waxed and also vacuumed sealed it.  It won’t be ready until October or later.  I made it in December.

One of my favorite cheeses to make is St. Marcellin.  I have made it a number of times and it always comes out great.

St. Marcellin in the making.

St. Marcellin right out of the molds.

St. Marcellin blooming and ripening.

St. Marcellin tasting. I just love this cheese. It’s my favorite to make and popular with everyone who tries it. Sometimes I add a little lipase to get a bit stronger flavor.

On that note, I want to tell you about a similar cheese – Mont d’ Or cheese.  I decided one day to make it when I found it on your website.  I told my husband and our friend Frank (our cheese caretaker when we travel) about this cheese that was supported by a thin layer of spruce cambium.  Like two kids who love to play in the woods, these two decided they were going to cut down a small spruce tree and harvest the cambium layer for my Mont d’ Or cheese.  After all, we live in spruce country and Frank has acres and acres of spruce on his property.  So, they came back with these strips of spruce cambium and I dried them and used them to make the cheese.  What an adventure it was!

Mont d’Or ready for aging.

I also have the new Cardoona cheese from the recipe that Jim came up with recently.

Cardoona in the making.

I was so excited to see Cardoona in the newsletter right after we came back from Portugal in October.  We had eaten the most amazing cheeses made of cardoon rennet and sheep’s milk.  I immediately ordered the thistle rennet from your website and decided to make it.

This was a little “cheesy” happy hour we had with friends to try some of my cheeses. Back left is Buttermilk Blue from Artisan Cheese Making at Home; back right is the spruce banded Mont d’Or. Forward left is a Reblochon from your website and forward right is the finished brew curd cheddar. When you have that much cheese, you must share it!

My biggest challenge where we live is sourcing the milk.  We live near Tillamook county where the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory is.  Even so, I haven’t found a source for raw cow’s milk but I do get a good quality pasteurized milk from a Tillamook dairy that delivers to our area.  I have two local sources for raw goat’s milk and had the pleasure of bottle feeding a six day old kid when picking up some of his mama’s milk.

I did find a source for sheep’s milk three hours away in Washington.  I may just go up there this spring and try making real Portuguese cheese with your thistle rennet.

Advice for future cheese makers:

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because you will.  Cheese is magical.  As Anthony Bourdain once said, “You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money and your time in
cheese.”  So I am.

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Served with ranch dressing.

This appetizer is ridiculously easy to make!  And, it’s a great way to get your family to eat their broccoli.

If you want to make it in advance, you can shape the balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then pack them into a plastic bag. Or, you can bake them and then freeze them.

Baked Broccoli Cheese Balls Based on the recipe at The Cooking Foodie

1 head broccoli
1 cup (110g) cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup (80g) breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Finely chop broccoli florets, transfer into a large bowl. (Or, chop them in your food processor and add all the other ingredients in the recipe to it.)

3. Add shredded cheddar, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt, pepper, chopped onion, garlic, chopped parsley, eggs and olive oil. Mix until well combined.

4. Shape into balls, place on the baking tray.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. (Or, you can fry them if you prefer.)

6. Serve with any dipping sauce such as aioli sauce or salad dressing.

Baked Broccoli Cheese Balls Recipe - YouTube
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Florian Bergoin

Q.  What exactly is the Cariboo (besides a great 7 letter Scrabble word meaning ‘large deer!’)?

A.  It’s an incredibly beautiful, mountainous area in British Columbia where caribou are plentiful.

Photo from Youtube video Room to Roam

Since the beginning of 2018, it is also the home of La Belle Vallee Fromagerie, owned and operated by Florian Bergoin in the town of Quesnel, British Columbia.

The 1000 square feet fromagerie

Florian is making raclette – a semi-soft washed rind cheese, fresh curds (yummy on poutine), Clermont – a pressed cheese, La Fetta – his take on feta, Garlik – a washed-rind, semi-hard cheese flavored with garlic, a farmers’ cheese, and Mt. Blanc – a gruyere style, semi-hard cheese.

He is doing all this while he works part time as a forest biologist.  Fortunately, he does have help from his life partner, Adeline Dupuis who also works full time – in town as a clinical counselor.

Adeline and Florian at the local farmer’s market

His Alpine Roots

Florian grew up in the Savoie region of France, a mountainous area, known for it’s fabulous cheeses.  His grandfather’s family made cheese and Florian worked as a shepherd for several summers when he was in college.  Part of his job was to herd the cows and goats up a mountain where he milked them and made cheese every day.

The chalet in Jarsy, Rhone-Alpes, France where Florian spent his summers herding cows and goats and making cheese every day.

2012, at the chalet in France

Florian later earned his BA and MA in Agroforestry from the University Laval in Quebec City and he became a Registered Professional Biologist in the province of B.C..  While in Quebec, he worked at a goat farm dairy – Fromagerie le Ruban Bleu, as a cheese maker.

The Beginning

In 2013, Florian and Adeline moved to Quesnel and Florian purchased land near the Fox Dairy Farm where they get their milk.

He built his creamery right next to the fields of cows.

Regulations are very strict in Canada, so Florian prepared a very detailed business plan (with the help of Community Futures North Cariboo, a support organization for small businesses).  It took him 2 years to get licensed!

We asked Florian about his goals for the future.  He told us they are:

  • to develop a few more types of cheese
  • to hire someone to help at the factory
  • to increase the touristic and educational value of the business by organizing tours of the farm and around the factory
  • to work closely with other BC cheese makers to implement a quality certification for BC artisan cheese

You can buy Florian’s cheeses at local grocery stores and at his retail shop – open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

La Belle Vallee Fromagerie 2941 Shanley Road, Quesnel, B.C. https://www.labellevallee.ca/ 250-316-9595 Facebook – @labellevalleefromagerie
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