this morning, jen and i went down to the market to make cheese at beecher's. a month before, we won this experience at an auction during a heated bidding war. regarding beecher's, it's a small cheese shop in the market and has been made more famous by oprah when beecher's mac + cheese was listed as one of her favorite things. in addition, the owner comes from a background working at a semi-famous cheese shop at my alma mater, WSU. Beecher's Flagship Cheddar bears some semblance to Cougar Gold cheese sold at the WSU Creamery, but it is also distinctly different.
with that bit of background, let's get back to the cheese making. we showed up in the morning and signed the necessary legal docs and immediately got changed into our outfits for the day -- a pair of rubber boots, hair nets, and a white lab coat. rockin! we entered the cheese making space to find it hot and humid with very little room to move around. it was clear that we needed to either stay out of the way or make sure we were clear on what we would be doing to not get in the way or not get injured from the other activities that were going on concurrently.
as we got oriented to the space, they made it clear we could do as little or as much as we wanted. magic to our ears; we wanted to do it all and were really excited to play an active role in the process. we helped stir the milk after rennet had been added and the milk started to coagulate. the whey was drained off from the curds and cut and blocked the long loafs. we then loaded the loaves into this machine that cut the loaves into smaller pieces, salted it, and then packed the curds to be pressed overnight. the next morning the pressed curds would be shipped off for packaging and maturation. next april, if you buy beecher's flagship, who knows, maybe you'll be eating cheese jen and i made!
this was an amazing experience and both jen and i want to the thank beecher's for their hospitality and willingness to let us take over cheese making. we truly felt like cheese makers. if you see this experience or have an opportunity to make cheese, don't even think twice, just do it!