She started with Ricki's workshop and now she sells her cheese on an island in the Caribbean!Joanna Bulova took Ricki's workshop, Cheesemaking 101 in June, 2006. Now she has 42 goats and from their milk, she makes and sells a wide variety of cheeses. In the pictures she sent us, you can see how she has adjusted her methods to the hot, steamy conditions in Jamaica.
How did you get started making cheese?
I started in early 2006, with my first two goats. I made fromage blanc to start with, later adding cheeses (and goats!) one by one: chevre, feta, mozzarella, mascarpone (with cow's milk*) and bloomy rinds ripened plain, with ash, and with a wash of rum and paprika. I sell the fromage plain or with various mixtures (fresh herbs and garlic, rum soaked raisins, spicy tamarind chutney, freshly ground black pepper) and I layer the chevre with either herbes de Provence or a mixture of allspice and cumin. I also sell yogurt, which is a big seller and I make kefir for my own use.
* I use cow's milk for mascarpone so I can get plenty of cream. Otherwise I would only be able to get UHT cream. (Yuk.) I get it from the College of Agriculture (about 1/2 hour away) where they keep a small herd for teaching purposes. It's lovely milk, straight from the cows. At times of year when I'm short on goats' milk I make bloomy rind cheese using 1/2 and 1/2 cow and goat milk, a very nice combination.
|View from Joanna's veranda|
|Fromage Blanc with herbs|
I had lived in Manhattan for many years. Met my to be husband on the island of Nevis in 1988. Moved down there to be with him in 1989. We lived there for 2 years, then moved to Jamaica. (He is originally Jamaican but moved to London at age 11 and grew up there.)
We bought 18 acres in Jamaica in 1990, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and started an organic farm. We mostly grow fruit trees of all kinds plus bananas, coconuts and pineapples. Also root crops: dasheen and cassava. We keep bees and have a few fishponds. I had always wanted to keep dairy goats so that got added in, and of course the cheese followed. I now have a thriving business selling my cheese.
What is it like to make cheese there?
I have to improvise a lot, especially in this climate. It's hot! The make room is my kitchen, drying room is a rack on the veranda, and "ripening room" is 1 and sometimes 2 fridges with your thermostats on them set to 54F.
Sprout Creek Farm.)
|Mold starting to develop on these bloomy rinds which have been coated with ash.|
|Bloomy rinds which have just gotten a coating of ash|
mixed with salt and have been put to dry for several days before going into the ripening fridge.
|Bloomy rinds with a rum-paprika wash drying on the rack.|
|Chevre being layered with Herbs de Provence|
|Feta ready for sale|
Do you live on your profits from selling cheese?
No, I can't say I make a living with the cheese. I'm too small an operation for that. But we do a lot of different things and it all contributes to being able to run the farm, employ local people, and live a healthy and satisfying life.
|Joanna with Diana and her kid|