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It will always be a little different

If you get me to talk about cheese, you’d be in for the long run for sure. Of all the fermentation processes at Les Pierres that I’m involved in, creating natural cheese is the closest to my heart. There’s something profoundly personal about it, that I have learned to understand better after reading Sandor Ellix Katz’ book about wild fermentation, where he explains that ‘what you ferment with the organisms around you is a manifestation of your specific environment, and it will always be a little different’.

For me, the joy of cheesemaking is about just that: it’s what makes the cheeses that I make here local, Les Pierres’ cheeses. Trying to influence the changes that occur in texture, taste and body over time by aging the cheese feels a little bit like painting with invisible paint. There’s no way to be sure that what I am doing (or what I am not doing) will have the intended effect, but learned skills and experiences give me the confidence to try anyway. Because there’s always the huge challenge of recreating that exact flavour that I stumbled upon in previous experiments, even though that’s nearly impossible, given the amount of variables playing their part.

Traditional aging places, cellars or caves, provided near-perfect humidity and temperature conditions for ripening cheeses year-round. We don’t have a proper cheese cave at Les Pierres, simply because there’s currently no room for it. This is why we use small mason jars as mini caves, thus creating a microclimate for individual cheeses (with many thanks to farmstead cheese maker, cheese educator and Dairy Visionary David Asher, who came up with this origional and brilliant idea to imitate the creation process of Marcellin cheeses). Their lids can be lightly sealed to keep in just the right amount of humidity and the temperature can easily and individually be controlled. Because the jars are made out of glass, it’s easy to keep an eye on the developments inside, so you can make adjustments if necessary.

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