Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Cheddar King

When opportunity knocks on my door, I invite it in and offer it some Southern hospitality.

Such an opportunity knocked last month when Nature's Harmony Farm decided to offer a 2 day cheese making class. This is a class I have been wanting to take for a very long, long time.

Nature's Harmony just doesn't make mediocre cheese  and they have a cheddar, Georgia Gold, that has won awards and praises world wide. Yes, please let me learn a smidgen from the Cheddar King.

My mom and her dogs kept me company by driving me to Elberton, GA for this class. It is not a long drive from here but I was very happy to have the company.

Nature's Harmony Farm and its owner, Tim Young, are tucked away along several back roads. In fact I wasn't entirely sure we had found the correct farm because the farm sign didn't say "Nature's Harmony." Nonetheless, I found the cheese shop, farm and class, and despite the sign we were all welcome.

One of the things I really love about this cheese operation, versus the many others that exist, is that the owner milks his own cows and makes the cheese using more hands on methods. There were no huge tanks of milk being shipped in, but rather a smaller herd of Jerseys were milked twice a day and each cow has a name.

The cheese making room was not fancy and there were no automatic stirring arms for the milk and cheese. Young stirs the milk and curds by hand and this lends a more artisan approach to his cheeses.

The class size consisted of small number of homesteaders and cheese makers/hippies like myself. This not only allowed Young more one on one time with each of us (we all had special cheese questions and issues) but everyone was able to visit and get to know one another. There were folks who came from as far away as California!

The first day of class we crafted Camembert and Blue Cheese. I especially needed help with the blue cheese and Young was very happy to help me address my cheese making challenges. I feel very confident that I can make a good blue cheese now.

The second day we made cloth bound cheddar, a specialty of Nature's Harmony. Using methods that we could use in a home setting we crafted a very fine wheel of cheese.
Today I am actually making a wheel of my own and I plan to age it on wood for 10 months, just like cheddar royalty.

Young also showed us his cave and walked us through the steps of rind washing, brining and aging.
He was a very gracious instructor to allow us so much information, and he truly does enjoy teaching and interacting with folks.

Did I mention he let us help milk his cows? Yes! It was great for someone like myself, who would like to one day milk more cows, to see how it is done on a more commercial scale. Plus, who doesn't like being around these beautiful beasts? His cows were very well cared for and were very healthy. His management practices are clearly top notch, and they are a grass based dairy too.

If you ever get a chance to visit Nature's Harmony Farm, I suggest you do! His cheeses are fantastic and his methods of hand crafting artisan cheeses exceptional.

Of course he also sells his goods online as well in several stores throughout the Atlanta area.

You can also follow them on Facebook. This is the best way to keep up with classes. In fact, they are offering up a holiday class where the students craft and take home 3 Camembert cheeses. I promise that will be a great class!

Finally, I will part with a few more pictures of my class and all of the wonderful classmates!

 Happy cheese making ya'll!!!

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