Thursday, November 4, 2010

Local Cheesemaking Workshops Announced

Want to make your own cheese to eat or sell? The demand for artisan farmstead cheeses and interest in making one’s own cheese is on the rise. Thanks to the Northern NY Regional Foods Initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension, aspiring local cheesemakers have the opportunity to work with Vermont Master Cheesemaker Peter Dixon. In November, Dixon will lead separate workshops on how to start an Artisan Cheese Business and on the art of making cheese for business or personal taste.

“People are intrigued by the almost-mystic concept of how to make cheese, but can be intimidated by the prospect of actually making it, so the Northern NY Regional Foods Initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension is offering a set of workshops with Vermont Master Cheesemaker Peter Dixon for those interested in making cheese as a business venture or for personal enjoyment,” says Northern NY Regional Foods Initiative Coordinator Bernadette Logozar, a Rural and Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County.

Dixon has been making cheese since 1983 and a private dairy foods consultant since 1996. He has helped people make cheese across the United States and in places like Macedonia, Albania and Armenia as part of community and agricultural development projects. He has started several cheese companies, including Guilford Cheese Company in Guilford, VT, and Westminster Dairy in Westminster West, VT. He has been an artisanal cheesemaker for Shelburne Farms, the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, and most recently for the Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, VT, making cheese from Jersey Girls Farm milk.

In addition to being a master cheese-maker, Dixon has designed cheese caves, developed signature cheeses, and assisted new business start-ups and existing cheese company expansions. Dixon says his classes attract commercial and homesteading farmers, chefs, winemakers and brewers, cheese mongers and makers, and food writers.

“These classes are excellent for anyone interested in making handmade artisan cheeses using the traditional methods I have studied in Europe, North America and the Balkans. Artisan cheeses are now an integral part of the localvore movement and present solid and lucrative business opportunities for entrepreneurs,” Dixon says.

Community Food Security Educator Rosalind Cook with Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County says, “These November workshops offer a fabulous opportunity for North Country entrepreneurs and food lovers. Peter Dixon is an extraordinary talent and anyone interested in starting a cheese business or making high quality cheese should sign up for this unique opportunity to learn a skill you may use for a lifetime.”

“We are offering both cheese business-building and cheese-making workshops in response to the growing interest in buying and selling regionally-made foods and in developing one’s own food processing skills either as a business opportunity or for personal enjoyment,” Logozar says.

“Cheese-making is great fun, easier than most people think, and offers true economic impact opportunity for the North Country. More and more people are interested in adding value to their farm products, especially with the dairy industry. What better way to experience the flavor of the Northern New York region than through the local foods and cheese is something this region has been known for,” she adds. “The November workshops are a way to foster the development of more artisan cheese-makers and to bolster the variety of cheese made and sold in Northern New York.”

Interested in Starting an Artisan Cheese Business? two-day workshops will discuss starting and operating running one’s own creamery, the different properties of sheep, cow and goat milk and how that affects cheese-making; starter cultures and rennet; how to make lactic curd cheeses (Chevre) and Tomme (pronounced tum) from goat and cow milk; cheese brining; ripening; and financial and marketing information.

This entrepreneurial class for $100 includes course materials, lunch and beginner cheesemaking instruction. The Interested in Starting an Artisan Cheese Business? workshops will be held from 9am to 4pm daily on:

Wednesday-Thursday November 17-18 at the First Presbyterian Church, Watertown; register by November 12 with Roz Cook, Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County, 315-788-8450; and

Monday-Tuesday November 29-30 at Clinton Community College, Plattsburgh; register by November 24 with Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County, 518-493-7403 x312.

Those interested in learning to making cheese will have the opportunity to work with Dixon in Interested in Learning How to Make Cheese? evening workshops set for Wednesday, November 17, 6-8:30pm at Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County, Watertown; and Monday, November 29th, 6-8:30pm, Clinton County College, Plattsburgh.

The $35 cheese-making workshop fee includes course materials and refreshments. Register for the Watertown workshop with Roz Cook, Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County, 315-788-8450; and for the Plattsburgh workshop with Bernadette Logozar, Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County, 518-483-7403 x312. # # #

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