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September 5, 2013

Dairy offers Cheesemaking 101

THOMASVILLE — Cheesemaking has always been Sweet Grass Dairy’s passion. Now it wants to share it with Thomasville.

“Cheesemaking 101: Behind the Scenes with Sweet Grass Dairy” classes will begin Saturday and last until Nove. 17, with even more classes and workshops to be held in the upcoming year. All workshops and classes will be held at Sweet Grass Farm.

The classes, which have been taught since 2009, give students the opportunity over the course of a day to handcraft their own wheel of cheese from scratch. The first class offered in 2009 was a Mozzarella Making class. Since their beginning, the classes have had a massive response from people all over the region. The classes have even been featured in Southern Living and on a variety of food-related blogs around the country. The exposure has led to a waiting list of more than 100 people and classes generally sell out months in advance.

Co-owner Jeremy Little will lead the students through each step of the process, offering his expertise and advice.

Little started the classes because he wanted to educate people on how food is made and what great food should taste like.

He said, “We're big proponents of educating people on both how food is made and what great food tastes like. That's a big part of our overall philosophy and these classes are a natural progression of those beliefs. For me, it's one of the best parts of my job. I get to walk people through a day in the life of a cheesemaker step-by-step. Plus, I get to teach and interact with people from throughout the Southeast that are passionate about not only what we're doing, but also about knowing where their food comes from. It's a great forum for us to share what brings everyone together no matter their background — food.”

Throughout the day, the students spend an entire day in the “Cheeseroom” with the Sweet Grass Dairy cheesemakers. They are introduced to cheesemaking through a syllabus and discussion. After walking through the basics of cheesemaking, they head to the “Cheeseroom” to get started. Participants see the whole process from start to finish.

Students have a hands-on role in every step, including adding rennet, cutting the curd, scooping the curds, molding the wheels and flipping the molds. They are encouraged to ask any and all questions about cheesemaking. The day is wrapped up with a wine and cheese tasting reward for their hard work. The wine and cheese are typically from other places throughout the world. A typical class is usually from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. with breaks.

All cheesemaking tools and equipment will be accessible to all that participate. Each wheel that is made by the participants will be aged by Sweet Grass Diary and shipped to them after it  matures.

Registration is required for all classes since space is limited and spaces fill up quickly. Visit www.sweetgrassdairy.com for more information and to register.

Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.

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