January 29, 2010

Since Susan Miller opened Kentucky’s first certified goat dairy and cheese plant in 2007, more and more producers have followed suit. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is teaming up with Kentucky State University and industry partners to offer a three-day, hands-on Kentucky Cheesemaking School in March to show producers the basics of making a commercial, value-added cheese product.

“The school is for anyone who wants to learn to make cheese using milk from goats, sheep or cows,” said Terry Hutchens, UK extension goat specialist. “They will learn the latest technology and the basics of good sanitation practices and quality analysis.”

The school, hosted at Miller’s Bluegrass Chevre, Farmstead Goat Cheese in Clark County is March 16 through 18. On the first day, participants will learn to make hard cheeses like colby and Cheddar and begin a process for softer cheeses such as cream cheese, Brie and Camembert. On the second day, participants will continue making soft cheeses and begin making feta and Parmesan. The third day, participants will finish all cheese, begin making yogurt and also take part in a sensory evaluation of all the cheeses.

Hutchens said organizers expect participants, upon completing the school, will have a basic knowledge of milk quality, handling and sanitation. They should also have basic skills in cheese manufacturing, ripening, milk testing and cheese evaluation.

“We aren’t stopping at how to make cheese,” Hutchens said. “We want them to understand how cheesemaking knowledge can add value to their operations and also to have a basic understanding of how to market the cheese they make to enhance their income.”

A pre-seminar on March 15 will focus on technology and is located at the Blue Grass Christian Camp Retreat at 7463 Athens Boonesboro Rd. in Lexington.

The school begins with registration at 8 a.m. EST March 16.  Each day’s session will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Registration is $275 per person, which includes all learning materials and lunches. Space is limited and registration is full for the current school, however, organizers will maintain a waiting list. If a second school is scheduled in the future, waiting list students will automatically be selected for the next date.

In addition to UK and KSU, sponsors of the school include the Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, the Kentucky Dairy Development Council and Bluegrass Chevre. Cheesemaking instructors are Clair Hicks and Joe O’Leary from UK and Steve Zeng from Langston University in Oklahoma.

Participants may choose to stay at the Blue Grass Christian Camp Retreat, located 10 minutes from Bluegrass Chevre. More information and directions to the camp are located online at http://www.bluegrasschristiancamp.org/directions.html or by calling 859-263-5239.

For more information about the Kentucky Cheesemaking School, contact Hutchens at 859-257-2465 or via e-mail to thutchen@uky.edu. For more information or directions to Bluegrass Chevre email Miller at gourmetgoats@msn.com , visit her Web site at http://www.bluegrasschevre.com  or call 859-421-9683.