Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions about The Art of Cheese
Q: Is home-cheesemaking hard?
A: No! We’ve met a lot of people who have thought that cheesemaking must be very difficult. When they came to our classes they realized that cheesemaking, just like any other artisan craft takes time, patience, and practice but is very doable and fun.
Q: What are the most common ingredients and equipment I’ll need to make cheese and where can I buy them?
A: While we sell many supplies at our classes, we recommend going to New England Cheesemaking Supply to purchase most of what you’ll need if you can’t come to a class with us.
Here’s a list of the most commonly used supplies for most of the cheeses we teach:
Key Ingredients for the majority of cheeses:
- Mesophilic Starter Culture (C101 or MM100)
- Thermophilic Starter Culture (C201 or TA 61 or C510)
- Rennet (Animal, Vegetable, Liquid, or Tablets)
- Citric Acid
Additional Ingredients for certain cheeses:
- Penicillium Candidum for Bloomy Rind Cheeses (any variety – I use C84, C82)
- Penicillium Roqueforti for Blue Cheeses (any variety)
- Proprionic Shermanii for Alpine (Swiss) Cheeses
- Brevibacterium Linens for Washed Rind Cheeses (any variety)
- Butter Muslin
- Mini Measuring Spoon Set
- Cheese Wax (for hard cheeses)
- Forms/Molds that are useful: Baskets (M332, M300 8 oz), Shaped Molds (M132, M184), Hard Cheese Mold (M3)
- Croute Fleurie Cheese Wrap (for Bloomy Rinds)
Q: Do I get to take home samples and recipes after my class?
A: Yes! You will walk away from each class with a recipe packet with both recipes we make in class and others that we haven’t. You will also take home some small cheese samples (unless you eat them all in class!).
Q: What is the Certification Program?
A: The Art of Cheese has in-house certification for home-cheesemakers. Complete any three classes for Bronze Level, three more gets you to the Silver Level, nine for Gold and twelve for Platinum Level. In addition to learning a LOT about cheesemaking, you will also save money when you purchase classes in packages of 3, 6, 9 or 12. More details here.
Q: Do I have to take classes in the Certification Program in a particular order?
A: No. You can take classes in any order. We recommend starting with the Beginner-level cheeses because they require less time and specialized equipment, but you are free to take classes in any order that you like.
Q: Don’t have time to come to our live classes – or live too far away?
A: That’s exactly why I’ve created the online courses and now we also have live, interactive virtual classes via Zoom! With the online and virtual courses you’ll get all the skills you need to create your own cheesy masterpieces. Who knows? You may even decide you need a goat or two.
Q: Why not just look for free videos online?
A: It’s no secret that there are lots of free how-to videos to learn just about anything (including cheesemaking) on the internet. The difference with my courses is that I have many years of experience teaching cheesemaking to both novice and advanced cheesemakers. That means that my courses include tips and tricks that I’ve learned from working with hundreds of students over the years. And that translates to quicker, more successful learning for you. Plus the professional production of our videos, which includes relevant graphics and reminders on screen, will really enhance your ability to absorb and remember the information provided.
Questions about making cheese
Q: Want to learn to make cheese, but feel like you’re too busy?
A: When my girls were little, my family decided to move to a farm and get a few goats. Pretty soon we had more milk than we knew what to do with. That’s when I started thinking about cheesemaking. But with an active family, work, and animals to care for, I thought I couldn’t squeeze in one more thing.
With a little bit of exploration, I soon discovered that basic cheesemaking was actually pretty simple, and much of it could be done even with my busy lifestyle. You can read more about my cheesemaking journey here.
Q: How much time does it really take to make cheese?
A: Some cheeses take longer than others but in general it may be easier and quicker than you think. Fresh cheeses may take as little as 10-30 minutes of hands-on time whereas aged cheeses may involve several hours of hands-on and weeks or months of aging time. More info HERE for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Level Cheeses
Q: Do I need a lot of fancy equipment or supplies?
A: Not necessarily! When you attend our classes or take our online courses, we’ll show you exactly what you need and where to find it without spending a fortune. You might even be surprised how much you already have in your own kitchen!
Q: Do I need a goat or cow to make good cheese?
A: Don’t have a goat or a cow living in your backyard? Have no fear, you can still make cheese! While better, fresher milk will make better cheese, you CAN make cheese from milks found at your local grocery store, too. Just stay away from ultra-pasteurized varieties, and if possible, try to buy non-homogenized milk (this pertains only to cow milk since goat milk is naturally homogenized). If you do want to get farm fresh milk without having to raise the dairy animal yourself, you can join a milk CSA (check out www.rawmilkcolorado.org). Here are a few local milk suppliers that we know and trust:
Briar Gate Farm in Longmont (goat milk – sometimes available – this is our farm!)
Mountain Flower Farm in Boulder (goat milk)
Table Mountain Farm in Longmont (goat milk)
Ida’s Mini Milk Cows in Longmont (cow milk)
Good pasteurized milk:
Q: How long will it take me to get good at making cheese?
A: If you’re already a cook, you know the old saying “start with good ingredients…” With the right raw materials and skilled instruction, your very first cheese will be ready in about 24 to 36 hours, and you’ll be blown away by the incredible depth of flavors.
I’ll teach you all about the different kinds of milk, and the other types of ingredients you may choose to use if (when!) you get hooked on cheesemaking and want to move on to more advanced cheeses.
Q: Are pressed and aged cheeses a lot harder to make?
A: More advanced cheeses require more time and a little more equipment, but you can generally fit the various steps into your day, in small segments. And the end results are well worth the effort.
Q: What is rennet?
A: Rennet is the most common coagulant used in cheesemaking (which helps solidify milk into a curd). It is made from the enzyme rennin, which is produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals that allows them to process mother’s milk more effectively.
Q: What are cheese cultures?
A: A variety of bacterial cultures that assist in the acidification of milk to make cheese.
Q: What is the difference between Mesophilic and Thermophilic Culture?
A: Mesophilic cultures are used for lower-temperature, usually softer cheeses while thermophilic cultures are used for higher-temperature, usually harder cheeses.
Q: What is ripening?
A: Allowing a cheese culture to acidifiy milk during cheesemaking.
Q: Do I have to use cheese salt for my homemade cheese?
A: You can use Kosher or non-iodized natural sea salt in place of cheese salt.
Q: How does orange cheese get its color?
A: The addition of a diluted plant extract, annatto, is what gives almost all cheeses their orange color.
Q: What equipment and supplies will I need to make cheese?
A: It depends on what cheese you are making. Each class will cover the specific equipment and supplies needed to make the cheeses covered in class, and in most cases you will have the option to purchase supplies at the end of class so you can go right home and make your own cheese! If you’d like an equipment list prior to class, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: My cheese is tough and chewy
A: You might have used too much rennet. Remember that vegetarian rennets are double-strength so use half the amount called for in your recipe. Also if you’re using raw milk for your cheese, you can usually cut the rennet amount in half.
Q: My mozzarella won’t stretch
A: Chances are, the milk you’re using has been pasteurized above 172 degrees which denatures the proteins to the point that they won’t stretch. You may also be using milk that isn’t terribly fresh. Try using the freshest, most local, least processed milk you can find. Non-homogenized milks are also a great choice for mozzarella as well as all other cheeses.
Q: My yields are really low
A: Try using whole milk, and in some cases adding cream to increase your yields. Also, the fresher the milk, the higher your yields. Remember, don’t use ultra-pasteurized milk for cheesemaking!
Cancellation/Missed Class Policy
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: A 24 hour notice is required for a refund if you must cancel. You can call, text or e-mail us if you know you need to cancel. Call or text us at (303) 579-9537 or send an email to email@example.com. Students who miss a class that is sold out or that has only reached it’s minimum number to run (6) will not receive a refund without advanced notice. In select cases we will offer you a 50% credit for classes missed without a 24 hour notice.
Q: What if I miss a class due to an emergency?
A: Of course we’ll work with you in these cases. We’ll be happy to issue you a credit to attend a future class if you must miss due to an emergency.
Our Favorite Resources
Great Cheesemaking Books:
1. 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes
2. Kitchen Creamery by Louella Hill
3. Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
4. Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking by Gianaclis Caldwell
5. Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin