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Food Safety and Artisan Cheesemaking: Essential Hygiene Practices and Programs

This Vermont Tech 5-day program is a practical and comprehensive technical guide in cheese technology and the principles governing the quality of cheese. During this intensive course, participants will learn the fundamentals of cheese making, quality control practices and useful considerations in starting a small scale cheesemaking business. The course, lead by Dr. Almena-Aliste -an international cheese technologist and former instructor/program developer of VIAC programs, is structured in 3 main sections. The first section focuses on the chemistry of milk and the different aspects defining the quality of cheese-making milk. The second part describes the principles of cheesemaking, the different families of cheese and also includes comprehensive hands-on demonstrations in making 3 different cheese styles: a fresh acid-coagulated, a bloomy rind variety and a semi-hard cheese. Finally, the last section of the program focuses on how monitor and control the fundamental factors driving the quality of the product. All the cheese making exercises will be performed by Canadian master cheesemaker Marie-Chantal and will be hosted at the facilities of Neighborly farms, an organic Vermont farm producing award winner cheeses. At the end of the program students will also have the opportunity to get a private tour of Neighborly farms and learn from Linda Dimmick, owner and cheesemaker of Neighborly farms, the main challenges and rewards of being a farmer and a cheese maker.
Day 1 - October 28th Food Safety and Hygiene

Dr. Todd Pritchard, University of Vermont

This VTC workshop in Food Safety and Artisan Cheesemaking series explores potential hazards in cheese making with a focus on those of a biological nature capable of causing food borne illness if present in cheese. We will review specific microbial pathogens of concern, sources of contamination and interventions aimed at reducing risks both on-farm and in the processing facility. In addition we will discuss preventative control strategies cheesemakers can employ with a focus on essential pre-requisite programs such as good manufacturing practices, proper sanitation standard operating procedures and related documentation. This course will conclude with a thorough description milk quality tests and interpretation of results.

Day 2 - October 29th - SENSORY EVALUATION

Dr. Montserrat Almena-Aliste
Dairy Technologist and President of Green Mountains LACTEUS International

This VTC 1 day technical workshop provides a practical overview of different sensory techniques used for the evaluation of cheese, with special emphasis on descriptive analysis and their application for product description, marketing and cheese quality improvement. Participants will learn step by step how to successfully implement sensory analysis into the product cycle, and how to create and train a sensory panel for product development and quality control purposes. Sensory training and sensory evaluation techniques are powerful tools to help cheesemakers to define and characterize their product and improve the overall quality of cheese. In this workshop, lead by Dr. Almena a sensory expert and several times Judge at the American Cheese Society (ACS), we will also learn the principles used at the ACS Competition to evaluate and judge cheese. Participants are encouraged to bring their cheeses or company products for technical evaluation.

Day 3-5 - October 30-31 and November 1st  - CHEESE CHEMISTRY

Dr. Montserrat Almena-Aliste Dairy Technologist and President of Green Mountain LACTEUS International

With the special collaboration of:
Rick Woods master cheesemaker of Vermont Farmstead Cheese & Jeremy Stephenson from Spring Brook Farm

This VTC 3-day short course explores the chemistry of cheese in relation to the manufacturing steps responsible for transforming milk into curd, as well as the biochemical changes that the initial product experiences during the ripening process. The material taught provides precise information about the technological factors (both manufacturing and aging) responsible for a specific chemical composition that determines the sensory profile (texture and flavor) in a wide variety of cheeses. The course, instructed by Montserrat Almena-Aliste Ph.D, includes also a hands-on section in which participants will evaluate cheese quality in relationship to physico-chemical composition and sensory properties for different cheese varieties. We will wrap-up the course with a field trip to two Award Winner Farmstead cheese producers, making very different cheese varieties: Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company (bloomy rind and English style cheeses) and Spring Brook Farm (semi-hard alpine cheese varieties). During our visit participants will have the chance to see the cheesemaking process, tour the aging facilities and discuss multiple technical aspects with the master cheesemakers of both dairy farms. 

Registration fee includes a comprehensive course manual, breakfast, lunch and refreshment breaks for all days of the course.
Optional lodging at the college it is also available at a very competitive price. If you are interested in staying at the college please contact Maureen at or (802) 879-2336