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Cheese Making with Ballymaloe Cookery School

For the past two years (prior to Covid), I have been working with Ballymaloe Cookery School. My role has two aspects, firstly to teach cheese making to students enrolled on the 12 week cookery course and secondly working on a recipe that would suit the school's tiny cheese vat and curing room. Ballymaloe Cookery School milk eight to ten Jersey dairy cows every day and this milk is processed in their small dairy to make butter, buttermilk, kefir, yoghurt and now cheese. All of these dairy products are sold in their Farm Shop, used in the Cookery School and also at the restaurant at Ballymaloe House.

The School had struggled for a number of years to make a cheese that would ripen sufficiently so that it could be enjoyed by the students of the 12 week Cookery course. So we tried a recipe that we made in Knockdrinna, our Knockdrinna Snow, a goats milk Camembert. We adapted the recipe to suit the Jersey cow milk which is high in fat. After a few shaky attempts, Tim and I have now mastered a recipe that is producing a very fine Camembert. It is full of a delicious buttery Jersey flavour with that very distinct Camembert flavour.

At the moment, this cheese is just the privilege of the students and staff to enjoy, but watch this space as I think in no time at all, it will be on sale in the Ballymaloe Farm Shop, so if you're anywhere near Ballymaloe, call in and enjoy some of their amazing dairy products and lots lots more. Last Saturday, Tim and Darina called to Knockdrinna Cafe and surprised me with a present of some cheese and also some bread made from wheat grown on the farm and milled in our own Kells Mill in Bennetsbridge. The bread was a delicious sourdough, full of flavour and when teamed with some of their butter and cheese, it was a complete food experience.

Given what we are all facing now with the threat to our food security from Mr. Putin, it might not seem so far fetched that we produce our own dairy products and consume them within our own communities. Who knows what's ahead of us. Let's celebrate our food heroes who never fail to inspire us and I can certainly say without hesitation that Ballymaloe Cookery School and House is indeed an inspiration. Helen Finnegan Knockdrinna Farmhouse Foods

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