Course focuses on the science, art of making cheese

October 19, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Cheese making is a complex process involving many factors that must be considered -- it's not as easy as simply looking up a recipe on the Internet. If you are serious about making fine cheese, you likely need some help.

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences offers the cheese-making guidance you need.

A short course, The Science and Art of Cheese Making, will be held today through  Oct. 24 in the Food Science Building. Faculty from the College of Agricultural Sciences will cover important aspects of cheese making, such as milk composition, microbiology, sanitation and changes that occur at each step of the cheese-making process.

The three-day course is aimed at smaller artisanal cheese makers, farmstead cheese makers and entrepreneurs who are considering making cheese, according to Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods extension and research associate.

"I think it's really important for people to understand the science behind what goes into cheese making," she said. "For example, a recipe will say to do a step for 30 minutes to this pH -- but what happens if your cheese doesn't get to those targets? How do you adjust for that?"

In addition to Kaylegian, short-course presenters from Penn State include Bob Roberts, professor of food science; Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science; and Sarah Cornelisse, senior extension associate in agricultural economics. Also presenting will be sanitation consultant Bob Snow, of Agri-Grow Services, and Dave Potter, of Dairy Connection Inc., who will lecture about dairy cultures and working with smaller producers.

The last day will include a hands-on cheese-making lab. The participants will go through the process of actually making cheddar, feta and ricotta cheese.

"I think cheese making is a lot bigger than people think," Kaylegian said. "We had a cheese maker come last year who was thinking about starting a cheese business, and he wanted to learn everything there was to know about all the different varieties.

"He walked away from the course surprised by how much he didn't know before," she added. "He did not realize how diverse and complex cheese making really is."

Kaylegian said there are still a few spots open for the course. The cost is $825, which includes tuition, course materials, laboratory fees, certificate of attendance, continental breakfasts, refreshment breaks, lunch with speakers, welcome wine-and-cheese reception, and a fleece jacket.

For more information or to register, visit



  • Culture is added to a vat of cheese at the Penn State Berkey Creamery.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 22, 2012