An artisan cheesemaker discusses her culinary journey and explains that you don’t have to be a pro to experience the joy of cheesemaking.
The Joy of Cheesemaking (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011), by Jody M. Farnham and Marc Druart, offers easy-to-understand instructions for how to make cheese. Beautifully illustrated with gorgeous photographs, this comprehensive guide includes a basic overview of cheese manufacturing and aging, from the raw ingredients to the final product. The clear guidance and convenient glossary allow the reader to learn all about cheese, from creating to choosing it, as well as pairing it with the right wines. The following excerpt comes from the introduction.
You can purchase this book at the GRIT store: The Joy of Cheesemaking.
Marc Druart and I come from very different backgrounds. We weren’t even born on the same continent or in the same decade. But working together, developing programs, instructing and coordinating the practical science needed in teaching students how to make cheese, we have discovered that: Cheese is cheese the world over.
You love it or you hate it (and I haven’t met too many cheese haters). The students who have attended classes at the Institute over the years have shown us a diversity of professional backgrounds. They come from all walks of life seeking to learn the science and the art of cheesemaking. From career changers like brain surgeons and art historians, to chefs looking to add cheesemaking to their growing list of on-farm restaurant practices, they all want to learn how to make cheese.
I’m a child of the sixties, born and raised here in Vermont in the mythic place known as suburbia. On any given evening there would be forty-eight kids on my block showing up to play kick-the-can. I had five siblings, and I knew cheese as Kraft American slices sandwiched between two pieces of Wonder Bread and grilled.
Milk was delivered to our house a few days a week. Eggs, too. But for me the silver galvanized box with the word milk stamped on the lid, out by the back stoop, was a place to hide the back door key, or to be commandeered for use as a boost to the first rung on the ladder to the tree house.
Milk at that time never struck me as essential to all life, or related in any sense to cheese. Marc was born in a small French town outside Lille and spent his formative year in the nineties, “driving cars fast” and raving in the nightclubs of Menen, Belgium. Believe it or not, cheese wasn’t even on his radar. His first love was oysters, and he thought a great job would be to live in French Polynesia and become an oyster farmer and scientist. Lucky for us, he developed his palate for cheese while traveling around the world, working as a cheese tech for dairy plants. In 1998, he told his parents he was traveling for the weekend and ended up at an open house at the National Dairy School in Poligny, France. It was love at first test tube — chemistry, physics, microbiology . . . bring it on!
Today, he lives here in Vermont with his wife, a French master cheesemaker as well, enjoying the never-ending supply of all the fantastic American cheeses he can find and okay… a few French ones, as well.
When Marc and I were first approached to write a book on cheesemaking, we just looked at each other and started to laugh. Although Marc and I have been working together for six years, and have been officemates for the past three years, we realized how different our backgrounds are both personally and professionally. Perhaps the gap was too wide to bridge, but once we stopped joking and got our schedules out, we got down to work. The results are what follow in The Joy of Cheesemaking.
We have packed this book full of helpful information and ideas, from the basic steps in how to make cheese, so that hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professional cheesemakers alike will be able to use practical science to get started in cheesemaking.
You only need to know how to make a few basic cheeses in order to get started. We’ve included seven here. A world of possibilities opens up as you master the “make process” and start to add your own finesse and skill to the cheesemaking. We want you to get a glimpse of the cheese industry as a whole, including the technical side of making cheese, the science and best practices, and the practical side of this profession — what life is like outside the cheese house.
We have profiled a number small cheesemaking farms around the country. Everyone has a story about how they got started in cheese. (Be sure to record yours someplace so you can share with us and the world later on.) The families and farms in these profiles have achieved something wonderful: a sustainable lifestyle on the land and with their animals. See what’s cooking in the farm kitchens and try out some of the recipes. Cooking with cheese is a sustainably savory way to add even more value to your day, and may inspire you to create a tasty new recipe of your own.
Enjoy the stories about those who have gone ahead and carved out the lifestyle they dreamed of and you may be dreaming of, too! The book also introduces you to a number of cheesemakers who have been creating quality cheese and building integrity within the industry for years. We call them the “rock stars” of cheese, “Rockin’ the Wedge” by bringing great vitality and industry to the world of cheese, we would not be as far along in this ever evolving industry without their valuable contributions. You will also find information on the wonders of tasting and pairing cheese and the how-tos of impressing your next dinner guests with a gorgeous cheese board and some fun practical information about the cheese you are serving. We like to call it informed entertainment, kind of a new take on the old cocktail-party scene.
In cheesemaking, creating cheese by hand and working toward the art of the possible, you will find people to collaborate with. There are those people who will know a bit more about a certain aspect of cheesemaking than you do, such as the breed of animals you’re milking or the seasonality of the milk, so don’t be afraid to ask, reach out, and build a team of cheese experts who will support and nurture your project.
Most important, have fun!
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from The Joy of Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Making, and Eating Fine Cheese, published by Skyhorse Publishing, 2011. Buy this book from our store: The Joy of Cheesemaking.
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