{cheesemaking} My Day with The Cheese Queen

I met the Queen.

I mean the Cheese Queen, of course!

The front porch entry into the Queen’s home/cheese school.

Several weeks ago I was working on my plans for the upcoming FSC Academy Home Dairy 101 classes I will be teaching around the capital region starting in just a few weeks. As I worked on schedules, recipes, and equipment lists I realized that I had never attended an “official” dairy class myself, despite spending four years studying Food Science at UMass Amherst and an additional three working as a professional food product developer. I did a quick browse and realized that my favorite home dairy supply outlet, New England Cheesemaking Supply, actually holds workshops several times through the year. There happened to be one that very weekend and although their website indicated it was sold out, I called to double check. The cheese goddesses must have been smiling at me that day because NECS had a cancellation and there WAS a spot for me! So that Saturday I drove east into the sunrise and rural Massachusetts to the home of the Queen herself, Ricki Carroll for a day of dairy.

Ricki – her shirt reads “make cheese not war” – sharing her cheesy wisdom.

The day was long, packed full of information. I have to admit I was almost as mentally burned out as I was after the NOFA Winter Conference, though in a good way. Also, since my primary job is to keep safe, educate and entertain two energetic toddlers, sitting still all day was hard! That being said, I had a fantastic time and despite having already attempted all but one of the 8 or 9 cheeses we made I learned a lot.

Antique cheese and yogurt making tools.

New tricks and tips, better methods and clearer instruction. Books are wonderful but learning  in person (especially from a 30+ year veteran!) is an extremely valuable experience. I also picked up several interesting historical points, jokes and anecdotes that I’m looking forward to sharing with my own classes.

Someday, I too will have a dedicated piece of custom-made furniture whose sole purpose is hanging cheese.

I was so inspired, in fact, that I went through no less than four gallons of milk the week following the workshop, all successfully cultured, curdled and pressed into delightfully yummy treats. Luckily as a pregnant woman I’m not terribly concerned about my waistline – a great time to enjoy LOTS of cheese!

Cheddar, part 1
Cheddar, later in the day.
Cheddar, ready to age – we did it!

If you are interested in Home Dairy – cheese, yogurt, etc. I encourage you to check out FSC Academy’s upcoming class offerings on our new ‘store’ where you can register too!

I also highly recommend Ricki’s book as well as a few others. And, other FSC members have shared some great recipes:

Dehydrator Yogurt by Heather

Yogurt Inspirations by Alexis

Yogurt Cheese by Dianna

Paneer by Dianna

Butter in a Jar by Christine

and finally, Britin’s Cultured Butter …and Accidental Crème Fraiche & Buttermilk


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Awesome Experience – thanks for sharing! On my list to do and checked off blending wine back in April. Love experimenting with food and drink:) Have a Great Day!

  2. Yum! I have wanted to take a workshop with the Cheese Queen for a while. But I am glad you did. I am signed up for your class and can’t wait!

  3. tigress says:

    i took her class about 4 or 5 years ago and it was awesome. seeing your photos made me want to go back and take it again! glad you had fun. i really need to get in my kitchen and make some cheese!

  4. Sara says:

    I’d love to take a class with her someday. I heard of her when reading Animal Vegetable Miracle and I get my yogurt cultures from her. Looks like so much fun, loved the pics of all the equipment!

  5. Ricki says:

    What a gift, thank you so much for your kind and generous words. It sounds like you have a productive, fun and loving life, filled with great adventures for yourself and your family. Thanks for the special story about your adventures here in Ashfield and good luck with all your classes.
    Enjoy, in Peace, Ricki, aka the Cheese Queen!

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