Monday, 21 May 2012

All Things Cheese

Last weekend I spent Saturday attending a cheese making workshop.  The workshop was run by Elisabeth Fekonia from Permaculture Realfood and covered cheese making basics, raw milk vs processed milk, lacto-fermented foods including, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut, and things such as cultures butter and yoghurt.
Over all I was very pleased with the course and I found it very educational.
We got to see the cheese that we would be making from scratch (and later having for lunch)
Elisabeth shared a lot of her knowledge and her experinces with cheese making and all things dairy.
 We started by making a brie
 The curds were spooned into baskets to drain.
 By the time we had lunch the curds had drained considerably.
Morning tea was sourdough piklets with cultured cream, ricotta and cottage cheese. Then we went back to the lesson and made a cheddar.  The curds are cut to release more of the whey.
 Then the cut curds were heated to release even more of the whey then spooned into a cheese hoop lined with butter muslin.
Once all the curds were in the hoop the cloth was folded over the top and second hop was pushed down on top.
The hoops were the put into a press and weights were added to the top.
 Then it was lunch time.
 We had sourdough, kimchi, cheeses, fermented fruits and vegetables and salad.
After lunch we learnt about kefir, yoghurt and cultured butter.  Many of the dairy products we tried were fermented and if this is not a taste you are used to then it can be a bit confronting to get you mind around the fact that the milk is not off.

Elisabeth had kefir grains and yoghurt for sale and I purchased some of each.
It was a great day out and I learnt a lot.  I am not sure if it just me but some of the flavours of the fermented foods we tried were a bit challenging.  I have now been drinking my milk kefir for a week and I am sure it is just that my pallet is not used to these new flavours as I am not noticing it so much any more.

Do you have any experience with fermented foods?


  1. wow that sounds like a very comprehensive day, and how nice to taste all the different foods too. I made some fermented carrot - Nourishing traditions recommends it as a good fermented taste to start with. I did find it quite salty and in the end actually decided I wouldn't pursue it any more. I do make my own yoghurt and have made soft cheeses. It is too hot here to make hard cheese without a special cooler. I look forward to hearing more about what you did.

  2. I haven't had any experience with fermented foods other than yoghurt, I don't think.
    Only wine.... :)
    The course sounds like it was very thorough, and an enjoyable day.

  3. Sounds like a great day...i have been wanting to do a cheese course for ages (unfortunately the twins wouldn't share my enthusiasm!)I remember drinking kefir years ago and it did take a bit of getting used to but i think it is because our palates aren't used to it and for me it was also a little mind over matter i think!
    Thanks for sharing your pics!

  4. Yay Fiona! We did the same course this time last year, and I just did Elisabeth's sourdough course a few weeks ago, isn't she great?! So knowledgeable on fermentation! Pete found the lunch very sour and does not really appreciate all the sour fermented food, except he does have kefir in his morning smoothie (won't touch yoghurt though). I am very proud of myself for keeping the kefir alive for so long, I thought surely I would kill it (and I did kill the sourdough starter!). If you want to get into fermented foods you should read Nourishing Traditions (I'm sure that Elisabeth would have mentioned it), it has lots of recipes and explanations of how to use fermented foods. My attempts have been variable, Pete said my pickles tasted like McD's, so I must be doing ok :) Cheers, Liz

  5. I love kimchi and saukraut when it comes to fermented foods. None of it lasts long at our house as I simply devour it. I would love to do a cheese making course, it looks interesting....and delicious.

  6. Good for you Fiona! I think that I would find the fermented taste more than a little challenging though. I think that it is just what tastes you are used to having. cheers Wendy

  7. I haven't heard of kefir before, but I do love kimchi and saukraut! This course sounded great. Do you think you will be able to apply it on a day to day basis at home? Where was the course held? Thanks for the intetrsting post!

  8. Fantastic! I would love to do a cheese making course. I know nothing about it or about fermented foods. I made kombucha once but the mother grossed me out.

  9. Sorry, I hadn't finished but iPad jammed on me. I can't wait to see some cheese. Do you think you will be confident to make it? I am interested in a cheese making course i heard about near Ballarat.

  10. Well done Fiona, you finally got to do the workshop! I think Liz and I attended the same course. I agree Elisabeth has so much knowledge and is very generous in sharing her skills.
    The taste of fermented foods is a bit of a shock to the senses. I make water kefir, yoghurt, sourdough and was making milk kefir but accidentally threw out my grains...whoops! I've not tried making any fermented vegetables day.
    I see Elisabeth is doing another sourdough and fermented foods workshop in June, which I might attend. I'd really love to know how she makes fermented fruit and nuts.
    Have fun with your cheesemaking :)

  11. I think I remember seeing Elisabeth in a Backyard Farmer book talking about cheesy goodness. It looks like a fabulous day, what fun - I'd love to make soft cheeses one day. Last year our gardening group went to a cheesemaking workshop with Gavin from The Greening of Gavin, very enjoyable.

    I've only ever ventured into sourdough and yoghurt for fermented foods.. would love to try sauerkraut sometime!


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