UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Cheese making certainly has become an art, especially with the increasing desire of cheese makers to create their own unique product. With rising interest among consumers in knowing where their food comes from and who makes it, standing out matters.
Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is offering a cheese-making short course that provides all the information needed to create a brand of delicious, one-of-a-kind cheese.
The Science and Art of Cheese Making will be held Nov. 11 to 14 in the Food Science Building on the University Park campus. Faculty from the College of Agricultural Sciences will offer sessions covering important aspects of cheese making, such as milk composition and quality, coagulation, manufacture of cheese, evaluation and food safety practices.
The four-day course is geared toward farmstead and smaller artisanal cheese makers but is open to anyone interested in cheese making, according to Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods research and extension associate in the college's Department of Food Science.
"We are seeing more interest from the consuming public in locally produced, value-added dairy products," she said. "With this course, we are trying to respond to that interest by improving quality and safety, and getting people to understand the science behind their process."
In addition to Kaylegian, short course presenters from Penn State include Sarah Cornelisse, farm business senior extension associate; Catherine Cutter, associate professor of food science and food safety extension specialist; Bob Roberts, professor and head of food science; and Robson Machado, food science doctoral degree candidate.
Other presenters include Dave Potter, a consultant from Dairy Connection in Wisconsin, and former Penn State graduate student Bob Snow, a consultant from Agri-Grow Services.
The course will include a cheese-making session, lab sessions and cheese tastings, as well as a tour of the Penn State Berkey Creamery.
"The artisanal cheese-making industry is attractive because you can take a perishable product, such as milk, and you can turn it into something with increased shelf life, therefore greatly increasing the value," Kaylegian said. "Plus, anybody can sell milk. But artisanal cheese makers can develop a cheese that is unique to their company.
"When you really know and understand the process behind artisanal cheese making, you get to run wild with the ideas," she added. "You get a signature product out of it."
Registration for the short course costs $1,125, which includes tuition, course materials, laboratory fees, certificate of attendance, continental breakfasts, refreshment breaks, lunch with speakers, a welcome wine and cheese reception, and a fleece jacket.
For more information or to register, visit the short course's Web page.