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The Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese

16 Sterling Drive
Craftsbury Common, VT

The School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College offers “Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese,” an intensive eight-day program for aspiring and practicing cheesemakers. This unique course is offered in partnership with the Cellars at Jasper Hill, an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional educator and producer of award-winning, perfectly ripened, single-source cheeses from the verdant working landscape of Vermont.  Led by world-renowned master cheesemaker and educator Ivan Larcher, “Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese” provides students with the practical and scientific knowledge needed to create exquisite small-scale artisanal cheese.

This course offers a whole-system perspective on cheesemaking, which begins on the farm and requires careful attention to animal husbandry and welfare, forage and feed, dairy production, and milk quality. After covering the production of extraordinary milk, the course dives deep into both the science and art of cheesemaking by exploring raw and pasteurized milk theory, cheese microbiology, coagulants, curdling mechanisms, and starters. In classroom lecture sessions as well as hands-on and observational cheese making, particular attention is paid to the artisanal production of lactic, hard, soft, Saint Nectaire, and traditional brie cheeses. After learning to make this array of cheeses, focus shifts to affinage, with attention to ripening cultures, climate control, rind treatment, and handling throughout the aging process. Because great cheesemaking can not be reduced to rote, recipe-driven work, sensory and tasting skills are developed. A session on defects and troubleshooting provides invaluable tools for managing production and working through the challenges of the inherently variable ecological processes of cheesemaking and aging. In sessions offered on the Sterling College campus in Craftsbury Common, at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, and at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick, Vermont, students also learn about the business of cheesemaking, sales and distribution, and content-based marketing.

Attention to critical food safety concerns, an on-site food sanitation workshop, and an overview of plant design round out the curriculum. This course is suitable for confident beginners and capable practitioners alike. The small class size makes it possible for the instructors to tailor content to individual learning goals and have one-on-one conversations. We do, however, recommend that students have some cheesemaking experience, even if only at the home scale, before beginning the class.


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