A table of homemade cheeses

About CLare

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Passionate About Inspiring Others

I grew up in Southland and left many years ago to go to Uni, travel and work. In 2019 I returned to the Farmhouse I grew up in, with a plan to turn it into a Fishing Lodge. My sister and brother in law now own the family farm and my Mum has a small cottage in the garden of the Lodge. 

Unfortunately timing is everything and Covid 19 has slowed my Fishing Lodge venture, so I'm pivoting! 

Over my career I've done many different things from working in shearing gangs to data analysis and research in meat works. Before I moved back to Southland I had a professional gardening and landscaping business in Canterbury for 10 years, and before that I helped set up a rural wireless broadband business in Canterbury and Otago.

I have always loved making building creating things with my hands. I've got a cupboard full of jams and jellies and bottled fruit from last summer, pickles for Africa and a small sad failed pickled walnut experiment. One thing I always wanted to do was make cheese.

I started experimenting with milk from a local organic dairy farm and had some early success with yoghurt and feta. Then I found I could buy rennet at Countdown Supermarket in Gore and I was inspired. Unfortunately the Swiss dairy farmer I got the milk off was not as impressed with my results as I was "Clare, your cheese is TERRIBLE, someone needs to tell you. It is BITTER, It is SOUR. Its should be SWEET. You are doing something wrong"

I knew my cheese tasted just like lots of farm house cheeses I used to buy in markets in Europe... but I started to wonder if that just meant they weren't very good cheeses either. So I looked for a cheesemaking class I could do. Couldn't find one. So I phoned various people I knew made cheese and while they were all very friendly and encouraging - no one wanted to give me a class. Finally I realised that if I wanted to make good cheese I was going to have to educate myself. The old fashioned way with lots of reading, lots of cheesemaking, lots of failures and finally that elusive sense of 'feel' for what should be going on with the milk as I turn it into different kinds of cheeses.

And it turns out cheese making is just like gardening - you never stop learning, the permutations of what you can make are pretty much endless, there are multiple ways to get it right, a few things you just shouldn't do, you are working with living things and its fun, creative and the end result is delicious and nice to share.