Sterling College offers classes for artisan cheesemakers

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While Vermont continues to produce its legendary cheddars, it is increasingly the home of many other award-winning artisan cheeses. Until recently, many of these producers apprenticed in Europe to learn their craft. Now, Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, is offering short, intensive hands-on classes for experienced artisan cheesemakers who want to deepen their understanding and sharpen their skills.

Registration is open for May’s “Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese” along with the brand-new, “Affinage: The Art of Ripening Cheese” class in July. Space is limited to assure instructors can tailor the class for individual goals.

“I am excited that Sterling is attracting aficionados and entrepreneurs for these deep dives into cheesemaking,” said college president Matthew Derr. “It reflects both a growing interest in mastering techniques and the expanding potential of the marketplace.”

For more confident home cheesemakers and capable commercial practitioners, the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College offers “Fundamentals of Artisan Cheese,” from May 21 through 30. This advanced program is a partnership with the Cellars at Jasper Hill — an American Cheese Society-certified professional educator and producer of award-winning, perfectly ripened, single-source cheeses.

Led by world-renowned master cheesemaker and educator Ivan Larcher, the course provides the practical and scientific knowledge needed to create and market exquisite small-scale artisanal cheese. Sterling College’s unique curriculum features living classrooms — including nearby farms, a food venture center, and climate controlled cheese caves. Both the science and art of cheesemaking will be explored, with particular attention paid to the artisanal production of lactic, hard, soft, Saint Nectaire, and traditional brie cheeses.

Students will learn why animal care and feed are essential to producing extraordinary milk. They will develop sensory and tasting skills while observing ripening cultures, rind treatment, and handling throughout the aging process. A session on defects and troubleshooting is designed to offer invaluable tools for managing production and working through the challenges of the inherently variable ecological processes that create superb cheese. The business of cheesemaking will be integrated throughout the course.

The fundamentals course is designed as a lead-in for the new affinage course which runs July 17 through 21. Eric Meredith leads this course which focuses on the science and alchemy that takes place during ripening, as well as ways to control the environment and the process. Working hands-on in Cellars at Jasper Hill will add invaluable experience with corrective actions or preventive measures that can be applied when students return to their own operations. Two comprehensive tastings during the week will help students hone their palates and expand their depth of knowledge about cheese varieties.

During his six years in France, Mr. Meredith learned cheesemaking and affinage from the best artisans in France. Today he runs a consulting business helping cheesemakers, affineurs, and retailers all over the world design, troubleshoot, and fine tune cheesemaking and affinage programs and facilities.

These classes are being offered through The School of the New American Farmstead (SNAF), Sterling College’s continuing education program. Classes represent the ideals of the College’s undergraduate focus of stewardship and experiential learning while offering multifaceted ways for agrarians, culinarians, entrepreneurs and traditional craftspeople to hone valuable skills. Learning experiences are offered in the form of workshops, short-courses, symposia, and professional development opportunities.

Online registration is now open, but spaces are limited. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. For more information and to register, visit: — from Sterling College.

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