Cheesemaking holds a lot of potential for small-scale farmers in South Africa. However, Kobus Mulder, dairy consultant and author, says that a cheesemaking venture cannot be successful without an understanding of the science behind the process.
In this week’s episode of the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast, Muller says, “The most common mistake that I see from time to time with artisanal cheesemakers, or young cheesemakers, is that they don’t understand the science behind cheesemaking. They have … seen a recipe for a certain cheese [somewhere] but there are no recipes in cheese; there are just guidelines on how to make it.”
Mulder says that, like winemaking, artisanal cheesemaking is a scientific process, mainly of fermentation. Aspiring cheesemakers need to do the work of going beyond an internet search and reading credible books on the subject.
He adds that most people enter cheesemaking for monetary gain, so cheesemakers need to make as much cheese as they can, and they need to do it the right way.
“You must understand where in the process of cheesemaking to do the right things to make the most cheese from 10 litres or 100 litres or 500 litres of milk [for example]. You must understand what it means to obtain the right yield, because it is the yield that you sell and from which you can make money.”
Mulder says that, although it’s possible to make cheese in your pots and pans at home, the best cheese is made with the right equipment. “If you start with the wrong equipment, then you will battle to make cheese and you will battle to make a good cheese.”
Stringent hygiene is another part of the cheesemaking process that is absolutely essential to the success of the venture.
Mulder explains that the hygiene processes in cheesemaking are like a science in themselves and require knowledge of the kinds of bacteria that are necessary to culture cheese.
“It is the cheesemaker’s responsibility to manage the fermentation process, which is done with bacteria, yeast and moulds. Some moulds can be bad, and some moulds can be good. Some yeasts are good, and some yeasts are bad. As a cheesemaker, you have lots of bacteria that you have to manage, and you cannot manage these bacteria if your hygiene is not excellent.”
Other podcast highlights
This week’s Farmer’s Inside Track also has many other highlights.
- Agri 101: We chat to Given Ngwamba, a sound engineer-turned-charcoal manufacturer.
- Book of the week: Our book of the week is In a world without email by Cal Newport.
- Farmer’s tip of the week: Our farmer’s tip this week comes from Khaya Maloney, vertical rooftop farmer in Johannesburg.
How to listen to Farmer’s Inside Track
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