Thursday April 17th
As temperatures increase and the grass shoots up after rain, there is another leap in production at the fromagerie. The baby goats have now gone off to ‘greener pastures in the sky’ and the quantity of milk is augmented; from the original 10 litres when I started a month ago, to 110 litres. My routine is getting more complicated as this morning I ladled curd into 103 moulds and prepared 60 litres of milk for ‘lactiques’ (rounds of organic unpasteurised goat’s cheese).
Yesterday, I learnt how to pasteurise the milk for the first order of ‘formagets’ which are sold fresh in little pierced tubs. Milk cans are in the ice bath awaiting the next stage of learning, tome production, as Easter marks the start of the busiest period…
Good Friday. April 18th
…The first tomes of the season, ‘batch 0’ are drying in the chambre d’affinage. I am reviewing my extensive notes and diagrams (timing and temperature control is crucial, as are the multiple turnings of the moulds as they drain) and preparing for my first partially solo production on Easter Monday. Standard attire is a very long apron, white gumboots and short sleeves: the warm solid curd is sliced into cubes in the cauldron and then broken by massaging it by hand with submerged arms, for at least half an hour. The resulting grainy curd (which sinks to the bottom of the whey) is then poured into large, medium or small moulds, lined with a form of mesh which gives the rind its character as a ‘traditional Pyrenean mountain tome’.