Home cheesemaking can seem daunting, and home cheesemaking without packaged, powdered cultures and synthetic rennets can seem well-nigh impossible. However, it is well within reach to make cheese that is inspired by traditional practices and based on the ecology of raw milk. The home cheesemaker can be liberated from commercial additives and empowered to cultivate their own starter cultures and growing the fungi that ripen cheeses. Author and cheesemaker David Asher will demystify the process and teach how to make natural and delicious farmhouse cheese in an upcoming course at the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College.
Asher will lead the hands-on, comprehensive five-day course “The Art of Natural Cheesemaking” from June 12-16, 2017. During the class, students will roll up their sleeves and prepare many styles of cheese and observe the stages of their evolution, providing insight into how many cheeses can evolve from the very same milk, with the same culture, and the same rennet. The course will focus on natural methods and a full-circle approach to home and farmstead cheesemaking.
“Good milk, rennet, and salt. Together with your capable hands, and the cool and humid environment of an aging cave, these are the only ingredients needed to make good cheese,” says Asher. “Making cheese reconnects us with the land, the livestock, and the farmers that feed us.”
The course will cover culture propagation to rennet coagulation and on to affinage. Students will prepare many styles of cheese, including fresh cheeses such as cream cheese, chévre, crottin, Velncay, and Saint Marcellin; rennet cheeses including mozzarella and burrata; and blue cheeses such as Camembert and Limburger.
David Asher is an organic farmer, farmstead cheesemaker, and cheese educator based in Canada. A self-styled “guerrilla cheesemaker,” David explores traditionally cultured, non-corporate methods of cheesemaking. Asher offers cheese outreach to communities near and far with the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking. Through workshops in partnership with food-sovereignty-minded organizations, he shares his distinct cheesemaking style. His workshops teach a cheesemaking method that is natural, DIY, and well suited to the home kitchen or artisanal production. He is the author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking (Chelsea Green, 2015).
The class is being offered at Sterling College as part of the School of the New American Farmstead, its continuing education program that provides a variety of classes and workshops for aspiring agrarians, artisan food enthusiasts, and environmental stewards. These hands-on short courses in small-scale food production and sustainable farming offer one-on-one mentorship, inspiration, skills, and new perspectives that will feed the body, the mind, and the spirit.
This is the second year of the visionary School of the New American Farmstead, the creation of President Matthew Derr. Under President Derr’s leadership, the College has launched the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems; made substantial progress on renewable energy; transformed its agricultural facilities; and set records for enrollment and fundraising.
The School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College is generously underwritten by two great Vermont businesses: Chelsea Green Publishing, the preeminent publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living, and Vermont Creamery, an award winning creamery offering fresh and aged goat cheeses, cultured butter, and créme fraîche that combine the European tradition of cheesemaking with Vermont’s terroir. Both Chelsea Green and Vermont Creamery are partner businesses that share a deep commitment to the environmental stewardship mission of Sterling College.
Online registration is now open, but spaces are limited. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Academic credit is available for all courses. For more information this course and to register, visit www.sterlingcollege.edu/naturalcheese.