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5-Day Natural Cheesemaking Class

April 18 - April 22


This will be our first five-day intensive natural cheesemaking class in California, at the historic Straus Home Ranch on Tomales Bay, just an hour and a half drive north of San Francisco.

Course Description:

From culture propagation to rennet coagulation and on to affinage, this comprehensive and hands on course covers nearly all aspects of a natural farmhouse cheesemaking.  Students can expect to learn how simple traditional methods can lead to a safe, effective, and delicious raw milk cheesemaking (as well as how to use these techniques with pasteurized milk!)

On the first day we learn to care for the cultures of our cheese. We begin with a session on dairy fermentation, learning to develop our own sustainable starter culture solely from raw milk. We will also cover Kefir, Crème Fraiche and yogurt.

On the second day we use our cultures and rennet to make fresh lactic cheeses such as Cream Cheese, Chevre and Faisselle as well as Geotrichum-candidum ripened lactic cheeses such as Crottin, Valençay and Saint Marcellin.

On the third day we look at rennet cheeses, preparing, in the morning, the basic curd that can become many different styles of cheese. By the afternoon, the curd’s acidity will have developed and we’ll be able to stretch the cheese into Mozzarella, Queso Oaxaca and Burrata. We also explore the different rind ecologies of rennet cheeses including the white fungus of Camembert and the orange rinds of Limburger.

On the fourth day we make a Bleu d’Auvergne and explore the cultivation of blue fungus that gives this cheese its blue veins. On this day, we also prepare rennet the traditional way.

And on the fifth and final day we make an Alpine cheese, and see how this one method can evolve in many different directions including Tomme, Raclette and Caciocavallo. With its leftover whey we prepare a batch of traditional Ricotta.

Five days of learning allows students to see many styles of cheese through the many stages of their evolution, and provides insight into how all cheeses can evolve from the very same milk, with the same culture and the same rennet. The course will focus on natural methods and a full circle, small-scale cheesemaking: no freeze-dried cultures or synthetic enzymes will be used in any of our makes.

This class is for everyone: from the home cheesemaker to professional monger, the cheese-curious, and even those with many years experience but new to natural methods – David does his best to address the needs of all students in the class. And though introductory in his instruction, David also gets to some significant depths in teaching about cheese technologies, microbial ecologies, biochemistry and cheese history.

Course Details

The class will take place at the famed Straus Home Ranch in West Marin, California, at the stunningly beautiful heart of the state’s dairying and farmstead cheesemaking region. For more information about the site of the class visit:

The cost of the class is $1,200 US.

Class will be be from 9am to 4:30pm daily; with breaks from 12-1pm.

Conscientious and delicious lunches will be provided; as well as a pizza dinner on Wednesday night with our own mozzarella. Snacks and beverages will be served at the beginning of class each day.

Students will get to take home their own natural starter, kefir grains, a traditional yogurt culture, as well as cheeses they’ve made in class. Included will be a signed copy of David Asher’s book, the Art of Natural Cheesemaking.

Camping, and scholarships for young farmers and BIPOC are all possibilities for making class more affordable. Contact David if you are in need.

Class size is limited to 16 students.

For registration and information about accommodations (three rooms are available at the Straus Home Ranch for Sunday until Friday!), please be in touch with David Asher:


David Asher is a natural cheese educator, author of ‘the Art of Natural Cheesemaking’ and the upcoming ‘Raw Milk Cheesemaker’. David does not make cheese according to standard industrial philosophies – he explores traditional, natural methods of cheesemaking.

David offers cheese outreach to communities near and far with the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking.  His courses share a philosophy that is natural, DIY, and well suited to the home kitchen or farmstead production.


April 18
April 22
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Straus Home Ranch
22888 Shoreline Highway 1
Marshall, CA 94940 United States
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