Monthly Archives: March 2013

CheeseSmiles – Cheese Course at High Weald Dairy

The cheese making kit

I have just completed a one day course at High Weald Dairy, I had hoped to tweet on the day but having twitter photo loading issues so here is a quick whizz through in photos.  First things first though, it was a great day, relaxed, well organised and I learnt a huge amount.  High Weald Dairy is based at Tremains Farm in Sussex, set in beautiful countryside, it has grown and developed over the years from a small family business to one creating a wide variety of cow, sheep and goats milk cheeses that are sold through farmers markets, delis and supermarkets. The whole team at Tremains Farm are, as I have learnt to expect in cheese makers, smiley people.  Husband and wife Mark and Sarah along with ‘the apprentice’ Chris ran the day. The course took place in a training room above the cheese maturing shed, with a teaching kitchen and place for teams of two to work on their cheese, a soft cheese had been part started and the cheddar was worked on throughout the day. The course materials are good too, with plenty of detail and information on suppliers, cheese record keeping, etc so lots of take home value is included.  My main interest was to learn the processes and equipment for hard cheese making and maturing, to work out if it is feasible to do this at home.

The picture above is a valuable one to me for the little blue jug and the blue manmade cheese cloths. Up to now I have been transferring my curds with a ladle but the little jug is much more efficient.  I also tend to use cheese cloths from Lakeland but they aren’t quite big enough, having a generous sized cloth definitely helps and the blue does mean if there is any loss into the cheese it would show.

Soft cheese draining

The picture above is the soft cheese curds draining, they were left with minimum disruption to gently give up their whey.  Just occasionally we moved the cloth to softly tumble the curds allowing puddles of whey to fall into the container below. The final processing, salting and adding flavourings was carried out at the end of the day, I created a cayenne and chilli version and kept one batch plain (I may add some horseradish from the garden to half and try the other half with fresh blood oranges). The soft cheese is delicious and the flavours enhance over the following 24-48 hours.

Soft lactic cheese with cayenne and chilli


The other main cheese production of the day was a cheddar. This gave the opportunity to stir the curds as they were reheated in their whey, a key part of the process the curds reduce in size and increase in ‘ping’.

Stirring the curds as they warm


The resultant curds are then strained and later pressed lightly in a single block. The block is then cut and stacked, the cheddaring process. Later this is broken down by hand into smaller bits, milling, and salted before putting into the press for the final stage.

Milled cheese being added to mould

After pressing, turning and pressing again the cheese emerged, pale and interesting.

The pressed cheddar


Now my little cheese is sitting in its cave, actually a cardboard box with a cup of water to raise the humidity and has become mellow yellow. I am exhibiting my best efforts at patience while it matures and becomes a star in its own right.

Of course I have brought the stages of the day together in this post; one of the great things about cheese making is that its not a hurry, there are pauses and opportunities to do other things.  Have coffee, chat, a wonderful lunch was provided (no surprises that cheese featured heavily) and a tour of the dairy manufacturing, packaging and cheese storage rooms. we also made mozzarella with much elastic stretchy, pinggggy fun!  The cheese below I really like the look of, the shape is from the colanders that the cheese are formed in and they remind me of the sourdough breads made by @pumpstreetbakery that take their form from the proving baskets.

The cheese store


Huge thanks to everyone at High Weald Dairy and the great company of those who were also taking part in the course, it was a superb day and actually as it was pouring with rain outside I can’t think that there would have been a better way to spend the day!


The Lady Vanishes – Vanish Oxi Action, in Action…

Vanish Project


I’ve been doing some more bzzagenting. This time the product on trial is Vanish Oxi action. I have used Vanish before, normally in bar form, this is the first time I have tried the powder. A couple of weeks ago I found a shirt in the bin, being thrown away due to a curry stain. It had been through the wash once but the stain was still there, but knowing the Vanish was on its way I retrieved it.  The day came to try it out, admittedly not an entirely fair test as the item had been washed so I guess the stain may have ‘set’. The Vanish came with an instruction manual, for curry the advice was to make a paste with the powder and rub it in with the back of the scoop. this is left for a while and then the shirt is washed adding more powder and your normal detergent to the wash.

I may have misinterpreted the add to the wash instruction. I put Vanish and then some of my regular Ecover liquid in the same dispenser. Perhaps I should have added the Vanish to the drum. after the initial soak with the powder paste, things had been looking good. However, once the shirt came out of the wash there was still a stain evident. I didn’t fully appreciate why until I went to do my next wash, the Vanish + Ecover mix had formed a solid lump in the dispenser.

I dried and ironed the shirt, sorry that the lighting conditions were not the same in the final picture. However, the shirt has been declared fit to wear again and I will give it a second go with the Vanish, this time adding the powder to the prewash or to the drum.

I would use the product again. Later in the week I used it to clean cloths that I had used for dyeing the leather sofa and they have come up well, still muddy looking but certainly not mahogany brown.

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