Buying cheese is great, but it always seems to taste better after getting your hands dirty (or curdy, rather). The chemistry behind cheesemaking can make it a tricky process for beginners. Luckily, there’s no shortage of educational opportunities to broaden your caseophilic horizons.
Ricki Carroll, who teaches Cheesemaking 101 at the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, gets a kick out of introducing people to cheese in a whole new way. “I get people excited,” she says. “I introduce them to the art and then they get into the science.”
There are cheesemaking courses tailored to foodies looking for a hobby, hobbyists looking for a career, and anyone else just looking to have fun. We’ve rounded up a handful of cheesemaking courses offered across the United States, guaranteed to give everyone from beginners to professionals a better understanding of the industry.
Jacksonville, Florida’s Green Lotus Studios offers creative, DIY-friendly classes (Kombucha workshop, anyone?). The goat’s milk cheesemaking class gives beginners the chance to make ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and yogurt. Students even learn some history and folklore (such as how goat cheese may have been invented on the back of a camel).
Hobbyists looking for a relaxing weekend getaway will love the cheesemaking class offered at the Mountain Goat Lodge. Located outside scenic Salida, Colorado, this bed and breakfast offers the perfect setting for making fresh chèvre, mozzarella, ricotta, feta, queso fresco, or yogurt—after milking the goats, of course. Participants may enroll in the class with or without an overnight stay.
Conducted by Steve and Mary Jo Shapson in their Mequon, Wisconsin, home, The Cheesemaker’s weekend workshop teaches 10 to 12 students the principles behind making Camembert, blue cheese, feta, cheddar, and more during one very full day. Participants return the next morning to pick up their masterpieces as well as complimentary cheesemaking kits.
“Cheese Queen” Ricki Carroll has taught a beginners’ cheesemaking workshop from her Ashfield, Massachusetts, home for more than 30 years. In seven hours, Carroll’s students learn to make farmhouse cheddar, queso blanco, mascarpone, ricotta, and 30-minute mozzarella. Classes include lunch and a sampling of the cheeses already made that day.
The Cheese School of San Francisco offers classes from August through December. The Cheesemaking for the Extreme Hobbyist course is especially suited for those who want to learn more about the science of the craft. In addition to hands-on and lecture-style sessions during the five-hour class, there’s also plenty of tasting.
Brooklyn’s Bedford Cheese Shop offers endless events and short classes focused on cheese, but here’s a twist: the Want to be a Monger? course gives a glimpse into a career behind the counter. Students learn essential cheesemonger skills, such as identifying cheeses, describing their qualities, and cutting them.
A five-day Food Safety and Artisan Cheesemaking course offers a scientific perspective on the craft. The week begins with an overview of milk chemistry and ends with a workshop on quality control. In between, students get hands-on lessons in making fresh acid-coagulated, semi-hard, and bloomy-rind cheeses.
WSU’s Cheesemaking Shortcourse is ideal for experienced cheesemakers looking to gain a deeper understanding of the industry. Generally held in early March, the course covers technical topics such as filtration and regulatory issues, in addition to more whimsical concepts, such as “flavor discoveries.” A full day is dedicated to making cheese at the WSU Creamery.
The Cheese Technology Short Course at the Center for Dairy Research in Wisconsin is designed for those serious about pursuing a cheesemaking career. An optional lab session delves into making cheddar, Swiss, and other styles of cheeses. Though the course is held over four days, participants receive six months of credit toward the apprenticeship requirement for the state cheesemaker’s license.
The College of Marin’s Artisan Cheesemaking Certificate Program in the Dairy Arts, developed in collaboration with the California Artisan Cheese Guild and the University of California Cooperative Extension, consists of six classes, taught by a stellar team of instructors (and with support from nearby Cowgirl Creamery and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese). Students attend both lectures and hands-on workshops at the college’s Novato, California, campus.