Students who don't know if they like blue cheese make it
Blue cheese and teenagers don't often mix - but that didn't stop Hāwera High School pupils mixing up a batch or two.
Schoolyard Blues, a Massey University and Fonterra led Curious Minds blue cheese-making project, touched down at the high school last week.
Eve Kawana-Brown, the project co-ordinator and self-confessed cheese lover, said the students spent two days preparing their cheeses with Fonterra cheese maker Cathy Lang and Massey University food scientist Dr Alistair Carr before leaving them to sit for five weeks.
Kawana-Brown admitted the cheese type didn't necessarily match the age group.
"We thought 'oh my god, kids don't like blue cheese'," she said.
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"But actually if they got involved with making it, might they like it earlier?"
Kawana-Brown was right; in the class of 17 students one pupil said she liked blue cheese - the rest didn't know.
Emily Boulton, 15, said she liked the veiny cheese, but couldn't remember when she'd tried it because her dad was a chef. In saying this, she still preferred a camembert or brie.
The Schoolyard Blues project came out of a brainstorm by Kawana-Brown.
"For years I've been going 'there's no artisan cheese in Taranaki, what can I do about that?'," she said.
"One thing I thought was 'I think Fonterra could help grow cheese-making capabilities'.
"Maybe they can help with school kids or something."
Kawana-Brown said this was the first school-based blue cheese-making project she had seen nationally.
At the end of the process the students will have two cheeses each.
"They've be experimenting with controlled cheese, they'll make the standard recipe, and then they'll tweak their alternate one," Kawana-Brown said.
"They'll have one that should all be pretty much same across everyone, and then the second one, they've change the salting of or the piercing of, and then they'll do a tasting thing at the end and try to figure out what they like best."
Kawana-Brown said the process was really interesting for the students.
"They'll start to see the cheeses take shape, and it's fascinating because it starts from the runny milk and by the end of the day they'll have something that looks like the cheese," she said.
The purpose of the project was for students to investigate the process of cheese making and how variations in methodology can impact on the end product.
When the cheeses are ready in five weeks time, they will be judged.