When I last wrote, back in June this year, we had finally decided on a site for our dairy and were talking to architects about getting the neccessary planning permission from the authorities that would allow us to build a dairy.
In this blog series, intern Vanessa delves into the untrod subject of 19th and 20th century cheesemaking equipment. Join in her exploration of these historic tools, from early subsistence-farm cheesemaking to modern cheese production. Read on for a chance to win an issue of culture! Congratulations to last week's winner: Scott.
Cheddar was (and still is) one of the most popular types of cheese in early cheesemaking. In the nineteenth century, it was especially common for the dairywoman to make cheddar for her family on the subsistence farm.
In this blog series, intern Vanessa delves into the untrod subject of 19th and 20th century cheesemaking equipment. Join in her exploration of these historic tools, from early subsistence-farm cheesemaking to modern cheese production. Read on for a chance to win an issue of culture! Congratulations to last week's winner: Tim.
In 19th century New England cheesemaking, women were in charge of cheese production. Early female settlers brought back their knowledge from the Old World and carried on the tradition of making cheese, mostly in small batches for their family. Cheesemaking on the farm was no child's play; it was a precise, difficult process. The woman was required to lift heavy objects, milk the cows, and pour extremely hot liquids into an array of vessels. When not making cheese, this pioneer woman was also responsible for cooking, cleaning, sewing, ironing, and food preservation.
In this blog series, intern Vanessa delves into the untrod subject of 19th and 20th century cheesemaking equipment. Join in her exploration of these historic tools, from early subsistence-farm cheesemaking to modern cheese production. Read on for a chance to win an issue of culture!
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of artisanal cheesemaking is how little the tools and equipment have changed over the past two centuries. Though our technology-driven culture has rendered many "old school" farming practices obsolete, the machinery used to make cheese seems suspended in time. The cheese trier (also known as the cheese tester or cheese iron) is a piece of equipment invented in the 19th century that remains relatively unaltered in cheesemaking today.
When Rose and I first spoke about their cheesemaking plans, she explained that one of the big obstacles was that they had not yet found an appropriate place on the estate to build the dairy. A couple of places had been proposed. She had her favourite. Neither one was without its problems.
One of them, Manor Farm, was close to Rose’s house and the main road through Nettlebed, with a lovely view over the hills looking to the south west, but, unfortunately, also with a tenant who was not far into his new lease. It was pretty unlikely that he might be prepared to give up one of his barns just because we quite wanted to turn it into a dairy.
Well first off, apologies for a long absence. It’s not that I’ve been doing nothing worth writing about, it’s pure laziness. However to remedy this, it’s time to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard and talk about something I’ve been superstitiously not blogging in case of jinxing the operation…. Nettlebed Creamery.
So what has changed? Well, it’s fast becoming the worst kept secret in my life anyway as I talk about it to everyone I meet and progress is being made, so it’s time to set it out on the world wide web for all to see.
What is Nettlebed Creamery I hear you cry? Well, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
I am happy to report that our building permit is FINALED! It was Aristotle who said "patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." Yeah...I wonder if he endured a creamery build-out, because that pretty much sums up what it is like. Just to recap, we started the permitting process with the County of Marin back in September 2012; they finally issued a building permit to us on January 15th; we were done building the creamery and got licensed by the state of California 40 days later on Feb. 23rd; it took another 60 days after that to wrap up the septic issues in order to get the final blessing from the county; so from permit issuance to permit final, it took exactly 100 days. The County of Marin has lifted all the holds, done their last site inspection, and given their final approval, closing the book on this project once and for all....at least as far as they are concerned. We, on the other hand, still have a long to-do list!
Let’s just get this over with: NO, we do not have our building permit yet. We are still waiting. I’ve entered the New Year with the realization that our creamery will not be completed by my fantasy deadline of January 15th. I’ve accepted this, but here’s hoping for February 15th, which is more than the original 100 day goal (by 30 days), but we’re sticking to the $100,000 budget no matter what!
I’m glad the holiday season is over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge or a grinch, but the holiday season is not very compatible with a construction project. Building a creamery requires the full focus and attention of not only the proprietors, but also the various officials, professionals and vendors associated with the project, and the holidays are both distracting and non-productive. Places and offices have limited hours, or days when they’re totally closed, and people take extra days off on top of that. It’s 2013 now, so let’s get to work!
In my cheesemaking experience, I have been able to use both a home made starter, commercial bulk starters and commercial DVI. What are these I hear you ask? On this post I will go back a step and define the differences and what a starter culture is. A starter is a collection of bacteria that begin a fermentation process. In this case they are lactic acid producing bacteria or lactobacillus. There are many ways of making a starter culture as you are harvesting and using bacteria that are naturally present in raw milk anyway. Commercially, the most common starter type now is called DVI (Direct Vat Inoculation) and it comes in the form of a freeze dried powder which can just be sprinkled into a vat in big creameries and therefore is pretty hassle free.