TomKat Ranch, Misouri
March 24, 2012 All-Day Cheesemaking, by B.C.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our Cheesemaking Day, beginning with the tour of your authentic urban farm, observing goats being milked, and a tasting of fresh raw goat and cow milk.
We found the classes to be far beyond what we had anticipated, in terms of the sheer volume of information, techniques, science, and hands on practice. Your comprehensive direction booklet will be invaluablte to recap, refresh and augment the information shared during your class!
Learning how to braid the mozzarella was a particular delight for me, a lovely finish to a totally creative day.
Thank you for opening your home, farm and cheese making studio to two novices. We are thrilled with what we learned and feel equipped to take on three or four "entry level" cheees favorites, using skills learned in your class. Your gracious offer to field future questions via telephone is appreciated.
Sincerely, B&R C.
March 10 & 11, 2012 All Day Cheesemaking, by Robert R.:
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.
Robert R., South Carolina
I just wanted to write to tell you thank you SO much for working with the kids on Tuesday. The experience you provided was extremely unique and incredibly informative. They absolutely loved it! Many of them said their favorite part of the day was tasting the difference cheeses, with the blue cheese being the one they raved about
Beautiful photo page by Jane Tomich, Cheese Class Participant, Feb. 18, 2012
Blog with photos, reviewing great experience in Merryl's cheesemaking class, Jan 24, 2012: http://capralane.blogspot.com/
April 28, 2012 by T.B.
April 21-22, 2012 Hermann, MO, All Day Cheese Making Class, J.L.
Thank you so much for your wonderful cheese making class. I had a great time. I have taken more than five cheese making classes and yours was by far the most thorough and informative. Every time I make cheese it is still so fascinating and magical. I hope I can have a dairy animal of my own one day.
2011 March Weekend Cheesemaking Classes
By: Sue (Apr 9, 2011)
I just spent a wonderful weekend at Merryl's 2-day cheesemaking classes in March, 2011.
I am a cheesemaker with several years of experience and an "instructor" who has taught cheesemaking - mostly to individuals or couples. My plans are to expand to offer regularly scheduled classes in my area of the country. As part of my preparation for that expansion, I am taking classes at several locations throughout the country to observe different instructional styles, in addition to learning as much about the art of cheesemaking as I possibly can.
I first read about Merryl and her classes through one of the cheesemaking supply companies. After reading a bit more at her website, I knew that this was one of the classes that I wanted to attend. I contacted her on the phone and let her know my goals, and had the most pleasant and enjoyable conversation. Merryl is one of those people who loves what she's doing and strives for excellence, but she doesn't have that, "Im so good you could never attain to my standards," attitude. After you meet and talk with Merryl, you feel as though you've made a good friend that you can talk with about your common interests for hours.
You can take a look at her website to get the specifics of what's offered in her various classes which are conducted in her home in an informal, friendly atmosphere in which everyone gets their hands into the pot (quite literally)! Even after having made cheese (and studied cheesemaking) for several years, taking these classes provided lots of tips and the opportunity to see aspects of the process in a way that was extremely helpful for my own cheesemaking practice. I would certainly recommend her classes to anyone who wants to get started with cheesemaking.
AND DON'T FORGET... After you've taken one of her classes she has given an open-invitation to contact her at any time with your on-going questions...and she really means it! If you don't take advantage of that, you have no one to blame but yourself!
Thank you, Merryl, for the great experience...and for welcoming us into your home.
Fun and informative cheesemaking
By: amy h (Mar 7, 2011)
Merryl Winstein is a wonderful teacher. She demystifies the world of home cheese making. I have just taken my third class in the last 4 months and Merryl has cheered me on all of the way. If you have never made cheese or have made a bit, but want to expand your knowledge, Merryl is the person in the midwest that you want to study with. She understands and simply explains the science behind the cheeses, but she also teaches the traditional methods that rely on visual cues and the feel of the curds during the various stages of the cheese-making process. On her full-day weekend classes she teaches you a wide variety of cheese types such as soft, fresh cheeses, pressed hard cheeses, bacteria and mold ripened cheeses and more. After the lesson is over, she has almost everything you need in small and affordable quantities to try making it all at home. So far I have only been able to taste my home-made camembert and it was unbelievable! I can't wait until my other cheeses including more camembert, cheddar and gorgonzola dolce are ready! Her half day classes on Mondays are perfect for someone who needs to get kids in school and get home in time for the bus. She concentrates on usually 2 cheeses. Interested Chefs that are not working on Mondays should take a class. I cannot say enough about how valuable Merryl's classes are!
By: Sue T. (Jun 20, 2010)
A wonderful way to spend an afternoon and to learn something new! My husband and I are cheese enthusiasts, so we liked seeing the process from beginning to end. If you go to a class, be sure to come early and meet their well-tended family goats. The little brown one was as affectionate as my cat!
Well worth the time and money!
By: Natalie P. (May 3, 2010)
I took the class on 5/2 and found it very interesting and informative. The information packet with instructions, recipes and lingo was very comprehensive and informative! I found myself only taking a few notes! There were even extra bonuses like yogurt and sour cream making! The class is very small and hands-on which is great! Merryl encourages class participation! It was great to be able to feel and taste the various cheeses throughout the process to understand what the handouts were referring to. I also appreciated the opportunity to try cheeses at different stages of aging. I purchased some supplies and can not wait to whip up my own cheese! Considering taking the all day classes next!
By: Susan B. (Apr 23, 2010)
I have taken the intro class and the 2 day intensive class from Merryl. Merryl is very thorough in making sure that everyone understands the processes and procedures for making each cheese. She asks questions and enables the class to ask a lot of questions as well. Her objective is that everyone in the class will be able to go home and be successful at making a good tasting cheese. I cannot recommend these classes enough if you ever want to make cheese at home. She teaches all the tricks the books and websites neglect to mention. Her goats are friendly and adorable. It is hard to imagine that this little farm is in the town of Webster Groves, so close to St. Louis City. You feel like you are out in the country...
By: Annie W. (Apr 19, 2010)
My husband signed me up for the half-day beginner's class for my 'valentine's day' gift and this class was one of the best gifts he's ever given me! I was amazed at how easy it is to begin making cheeses. As well as how inexpensive it is to start. So far I've tried the ricotta and chevre with great sucess! My family loved them! I'm looking forward to trying the feta and yogurt next!