The AB Cheesemaking short courses in cheese and fermented dairy product manufacture are designed to offer practical experience of making and handling dairy products. Emphasis is placed on the practical,and over half of the courses content is hands on.
Cheese is often compared to wine, where the same grape, grown in different places, in different years, will give a variety of quality products. Grapes are only harvested once a year, therefore it is easy to label with a vintage, and then define it, 2001 good, 2002 excellent, etc. However, cheese is made from milk, from a number of different breeds of mammals, and “harvested” or "milked" 1, 2 or 3 times a day , each milking having slightly different characteristics which can influence the quality of the final cheese.
The Yogurt & Fermented Products course is another two and a half day course where the students make a variety of yogurts, fermented milks and creams. Merfyn Lewis has been involved with yogurt production for over 30 years, and runs the course with Chris Ashby.
Yogurt is also influenced by the milk, but this becomes less obvious the more fruit and stabilisers are added. Natural yogurt, made only from skim milk and milk powder, can alter from thin and watery, to thick and creamy, depending on the process used. A small scale yogurt producer, who learnt the technique on an AB Cheesemaking Fermented Products course in 2001, won a True Taste Award in 2002.
The courses are held at Reaseheath College, using their pilot plant facilities. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, farmers wanting to diversify, cheese room operators, creamery management, sales and marketing personnel, and staff from supporting industries. Students come from all corners of UK and Ireland, as well as further afield.
Comments by the students:
"The course was highly enjoyable and informative, the practical class excellent, the tutors were helpful" Basic Course.
"I now have a good understanding of cheese types and the language used" Grading Course.
"The practical cheesemaking was very good, also the introduction to all the different cheese types" Soft Cheese Course.
The courses take place at (please click on link for directions) Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 6DF in the Food Studies area in Building 12 on the campus map