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Happy Cheese Culture: Pasta Filata on Parish Hill

The routine of cheesemaking is like a well choreographed dance—tempo, timing, and fluid movements all weave together, producing dynamic (and delicious) days filled with milk, curds, and cheese. There’s the science (of course), and also a whole lot of skill.

After my first day in the Parish Hill cheese house, I had an idea of the skill involved to create their beautiful cheeses, but after a second day (and getting my hands on the curds), I am in awe of what it takes to shape and produce good-looking (and good-tasting) cheese.

On Day 2 things got dreamier, stretchier, and curdier with Suffolk Punch (in the Caciocavallo style) and Kashar (a classic basket provolone). Here’s a look at the process:

Like a dream—one where you are suddenly dropped into the middle of an action scene—this day begins after the milking, testing, cultures, rennet, and flocculation.

Milk is turning solid and dairy magic is in full swing.

First, the stirring.

Rachel at Vat - Parish Hill
Stirring Curds - Day 2 Parish Hill

Once the curds are at the right size, the whey is drained, slowly exposing layers and layers of tiny curd.

Curds Setting Day 2 - Parish Hill

As more of the whey drains and the curds set, they are cut into sheets.

Cutting Curds Day 2 - Parish Hill
Curds Setting Day 2 - Parish Hill
Lifting Curds - Day 2 - Parish Hill

As the blocks are cut, they are stacked and flipped on each other in the vat.

Shifting Curds - Day 2 - Parish Hill
And the whey continues to drain.

Moving Curds - Day 2 - Parish Hill

When all the whey has been drained and the sheets have had a chance to sit and be flippped for a little, they are lifted out of the vat and transferred to the table…

Moving Curds from Vat - Day 2 - Parish Hill

…for more sitting and flipping…

Cheddaring - Day 2 - Parish Hill

Soon, it’s cutting time.

Knife Close Up 2 - Day 2 - Parish Hill

The curd sheets are cut into cubes, put into baskets, and dropped back into hot water to soften them up for stretching.

Knife Curd Close Up -Day 2 - Parish Hill
Cut Curd in Basket - Day 2 - Parish Hill
Cut curds and basket - Day 2 - Parish Hill

When the curds come out of the hot water, they are pressed and kneaded to texture perfection.

Curd stretching and kneading - Day 2 - Parish Hill
Twisting kneding curd - Day 2 - Parish Hill
Loaf Curd - Day 2 - Parish Hill

The large loaf is then cut into pieces dropped into baskets for Kashar or shaped like gourds for Suffolk Punch.

Cutting loaf curd - Day 2 - Parish Hill
For Suffolk Punch, the art, the skill, of shaping is explained—soft rounding and tucking, light pressure, allowance for gravity, a quick but firm grip to finish off the shape—but not quickly mastered. (It was fun to try though!)

Suffolk Punch shaping instruction- Day 2 - Parish Hill
Suffolk shaping instruction 2 - Day 2 - Parish Hill
Suffolk Punch shaping instruction 3 - Day 2 - Parish Hill

Once the gourds are shaped and the baskets are filled, everything finds its way back in the vat to hold before the trip to their final aging place…

Kashar and Suffolk Punch in vat - Day 2 - Parish Hill

The cave!

Entry to cave- Parish Hill

Next post, we’ll spend some time in the Parish Hill caves, getting a peek into how they spend their aging months.

All Photos: Daniel J. Clapp

Amy Fukuizumi

Amy loves few things more than writing and cheese. As a testament to these loves, she drove across the country to join culture: the word on cheese. Her goal as Social Media Manager is to make the world (digitally) feel this love (and 'Like' it a lot).

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