Cheesemaking Classes and Cheese Making Supplies,
with Merryl Winstein, St. Louis, Missouri
All Day Cheesemaking
by Robert Russell, South Carolina
I had never taken a cheesemaking class before signing up for one of Merryl Winstein's weekend marathons: two days of nothing but cheese. I have, however, attended workshops in other fields I knew little or nothing about. Frequently it has turned out to be the case that the so-called 'experts' running the workshops knew very little about what they were trying to pass on. I wanted to avoid this disappointment in learning about cheese.
I am happy to say that I was successful. Merryl introduced a roomful of us to the mysteries and intricacies of calcium, lactic acid, pH levels and a whole host of other necessary elements of the art of cheesemaking. I say the 'art' purposely too, for with Merryl cheesemaking is not ultimately a chemistry experiment but rather something that brings into play all the senses: smell, touch, sight -- even sound (when the curds squeak) -- and, of course, speech, since there was a lively and constant flow of explanation and anecdote coming from her.
Because there is plenty of sitting around time with cheesemaking, there was ample time to talk: for us students to ask questions, and for Merryl to question us to make sure we were understanding what was going on. This is not to say that we spent a lot of time sitting around. The schedule for the weekend was ambitious, and we were constantly shifting from one cheese to another: starting a cheddar, draining a chevre, molding a tomme, making ricotta. Our heads were spinning by the end of the first day, but the booklet she provided to all the students allowed us to straighten things out in our own minds, on our own time. Her insistence that we participants actually participate was invaluable. We stirrred, cut curds, squeezed them, pulled them apart, tasted them, packed them. And we ate cheese. We learned much of how cheese is made (with constant recourse to the pH meter), and why one thing leads to another, but we also learned that good cheesemaking finally comes down to knowing just when to move on to the next step. This is the art of the expert. It can make a beginner despair if not demonstrated in the proper way. There was no despair at the end of the day.
Back in the 14th century when the Gothic cathedral in Milan was under construction there were serious disagreements about how to proceed. A French builder was brought in as a consultant by the Milanese and he summed up the problems with the statement 'ars sine scientia nihil est': 'art without science is useless.' The summing up of Merryl Winstein's cheesemaking weekend might well be 'scientia sine ars non satis est': science without art is not enough.
IMAGINE LEARNING TO MAKE traditional cloth-bound cheddar, traditional mozzareally, blue cheese and ricotta - all in one day. Or swiss/alpine, gouda, camembert/brie and ricotta - on the other weekend day. Or other special cheeses like tilsit, jarlsberg, or havarti. Although it seems like a lot to cover in one day, you can learn it all and you'll take home complete directions, plus you can phone me later with questions.
♦ In each information packed class you'll learn accurate traditional and professional cheese making methods gleaned from my study with expert cheesemakers from around the world. You'll know how to avoid common cheesemaking mistakes. Your own delectable cheese, carefully made at home, can rival any other. You will NOT bring cheese home, but you'll go home confident, ready to make all your favorites.
♦ Cheese making classes are in suburban St. Louis, MO near Highway 40 at Brentwood Blvd (Near Galleria or Whole Foods Brentwood), 63144. Exact location is sent to participants. I have raised dairy goats in my urban backyard for 20 years and have a lot of expertise to share about that.
♦ Gift certificates and cheese making supplies are available the same day - contact me. Pick up an accurate direction booklet which includes $10 off a cheesemaking class, liquid rennet enzyme, starter cultures, cheese wax, and more. You may even get a complete kit including the cheese press. Both the beautifully hand made wooden Dutch Lever cheese press or screw type cheese press are discounted to class participants. Deluxe complete kit including press and every sort of supply, + $185 to $250, plus shipping.
Click here to get started on your new adventure into cheesemaking!!
Merryl Winstein, Cheesemaker, St. Louis, Missouri.