20170312 Advanced Plant-Based Cheesemaking


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Sun, March 12, 19&26, 2017

The introductory dairy free cheese workshop is a prerequisite for this course! Only people who took the class are eligible to attend this course.

Advanced plant-based cheesemaking picks up where we left off in the intro course. With the first course focusing heavily on lactic-acid ferments to make fresh/young plant-based cheeses, the advanced course explores using agar in making quick-cultured cheeses, converting some traditional dairy-cheesemaking cultures for plant-based use, a heavier focus on aging methods, and an intro to using molds for ripening plant-based cheese.

In more detail, we focus on the conditions required for working with aging techniques, and mold-ripening, and there will be more of an emphasis on the importance of recording, pH measurement, understanding humidity and temperature.

The course takes place over 3 weeks, and starts with cheesemaking homework on day 1!

Be prepared to acquire throughout the course:

  • notebook
  • pen
  • pH measurement tools (meter or strips)
  • hydrogemeter (measures both humidity and temperature)
  • probe thermometer
  • cheesecloth/butter muslin
  • cheese mold
  • bamboo mats
  • agar agar (instructor will supply initial batches for students)
  • cultures (instructor will supply initial amounts for projects)

Class 1 
Sunday, March 12th from 11:30am-2:30pm 

The class will include a review of the introduction concepts and culturing. Students will further learn about Agar Agar and starches and how to use them. Moreover, we will review the process of taking kefir and cultured cheese from young to aged.

Class 2 
Sunday, March 19th from  11:30am-2:30pm 

In this class, we will review your homework. Then, students will learn about mold and surface ripening vs. lactic-acid culturing. The class also includes the conversion of traditional cultures to plant-based ones and we will will talk about advanced aging methods such as washing with beer, wine, tea or coffee. Last but not least, students will learn more about drying techniques and caving.

Class 3 
Sunday, March 26th from 11:30am-2:30pm 

After reviewing your homeworks, we will have an extenden Q&A and sharing session. Furthermore, the class will review previous content and get more tips for continuing projects. 

Instructor Bio:

Blue Heron Creamery Chef, Karen McAthy, a born and bred west coaster from Alert Bay, has worked in and around kitchens since 2000. Her interest in and passion for local food systems and growing food was well established in her previous posts as director of food services at W2 Media Arts, executive chef of Graze Vegetarian (now closed), and Zend Conscious Lounge. Karen left Zend in July 2016 to pursue plant-based cheese making, catering, and teaching classes with her company, Blue Heron Creamery.

With both parents coming from agricultural backgrounds, Karen grew up learning how to grow food, and being curious about the wild plants in the woods of her home island. A deep desire to learn and understand how things work informs Karen’s pursuit of making plantbased food and creating cultured and aged nut/plant based cheeses.


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