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Affinage: The Art and Science of Maturing Cheese

MonS Fromager-Affineur is widely recognized in France and internationally as one of the premier affineurs in the world. With a catalogue of up to 250 different artisanal cheeses, representing every family of cheese, MonS presents a unique opportunity to learn affinage from masters with over 50 years' experience.

The Affinage course curriculum evolved out of practical, daily experience over decades, in collaboration with top French dairy scientists and researchers. In the US, Maison MonS was a key consultant in the development of the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont's famed affinage center, and more recently Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn NY. This week-long course at MonS Fromager-Affineur is offered in English.

The course covers the science of cheese aging from make process to affinage care and how both substrata and environmental conditions influence mold and yeast development. Students will work with MonS staff in the caves and Tunnel de la Collonge, learning the techniques and gestures used in aging cheeses of all kinds. Daily sensory analysis training allows the theory and practice to be understood organoleptically. Hands-on specialization in specific families of cheese is available to cheesemakers; please indicate preferences on your application form and essay. Class size is limited to six.

Course dates:
•  February 20-24, 2017
•  May 1-5, 2017
•  September 18-22, 2017 (+Bra**)

Class size limited to 6; minimum 3 enrollments required for course to be held.

Tuition

The tuition for Affinage: The Art and Science of Maturing Cheese is 2,800€. This includes classroom work, hands-on ateliers, lodging during the course, and all lunches. It also includes ground transportation between the Academie and Lyon.

If taken as a suite with Cheesemaking or Essential Foundations, the combined tuition for both courses is 5,000€.

**September 2017: Excusion to Bra, Italy included for enrollments of 2 weeks: total tuition 5,600€

Payment should be made by bank transfer.

Your 50% deposit will be due immediately once we have approved your application. Your balance will be due in full 2 weeks prior to the start of your program.

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Affinage

Length of course

  • One week residency/5 days of training (40+ hours)
  • 50% theory and discussion, 50% hands-on practice and visits

Class Size

  • Maximum of 6 students, minimum of 3 students

Subjects

  • Cheese make processes and their effects on ageing
  • Characteristics of cheese paste and implications for affinage
  • Glycolsis, Proteolysis, Lypolysis
  • Microbes present in cheese: natural and additive
  • Environmental factors and how they influence rind development and affinage
  • Identifying surface flora: the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly
  • Infrastructure, tools, materials and gestures required for proper affinage
  • Organoleptic appreciation of the effects of various ripening techniques on cheese

Methodology

  • Classroom theory and discussion
  • Hands-on practice in the MonS affinage centers
  • Daily cheese tastings
  • Comparative experiments in affinage
  • Daily review of questions and issues encountered in hands-on work
  • Students train directly with practicing professionals
  • Visits to deepen understand of affinage's role in the life of cheese and environmental controls.
  • Classroom sessions are taught in French with English translation

Prerequisites:

  • A solid basic understanding of cheese make processes and the families of cheese is essential.
  • Basic understanding of organic chemistry is recommended.
  • Cheesemakers, affineurs, distributors, and retailers welcomed; preference will be given to cheesemakers and affineurs.
  • Completion of Essential Foundations, Cheesemaking, Jasper Hill, or Point Reyes

Who Can Benefit?

Cheesemongers interested in:
  • Understanding the development of their cheeses
  • Improving marketability and value added through affinage
  • Expanding their product offerings
  • Developing affinage skills or working with professional affineurs to handle their cheeses
Affineurs interested in
  • Creating/expanding/enhancing their caves and services
  • Improving their skills
  • Working with different cheeses
  • Understanding and identifying surface flora
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points for cheese
  • Managing caves for optimum performance
  • Maturing cheeses for outstanding taste, texture, and marketability
Cheese distribution professionals (import/export/distribution/wholesale) interested in:
  • Improving their ability to care for cheese in transit from producer to retailer
  • Reducing loss and product returns
  • Accurately identifying and understanding changes that happen to cheeses in their care
  • Adding an affinage component to their service package
Cheese Retailers interested in:
  • Reducing returns
  • Distinguishing spoilage from appropriate evolution in cheese
  • Understanding cheese and conveying that understanding to customers
  • Offering an affinage aspect to their business
  • Learning to troubleshoot cheeses in receiving, in backstock, and in the case
Cheese professionals interested in:
  • Judging for cheese competitions
  • Preparing for the ACS Certified Cheese Professional™ exam

Outcomes

Understand cheese making principles and how they influence the organoleptic experience of the final product
  • Understand the natural cycles and biochemistry of cheese during make process and ageing
  • Understand the influence of temperature, time, humidity, and other environmental factors on cheese development
  • Understand the natural cycles and progressions of cheese surface flora
  • Identify surface flora on different cheese, and determine which are desirable and which are pathogenic
  • Practical sanitation and cave management
    • Pathogens: critical points and preventions
    • Understand best practices for cave sanitation
    • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the biochemistry that drives HACCP principles and be able to apply best hygiene and sanitation practices in cave management
    • Develop and manage a quality control system using logical checkpoints
    • Analyze and describe cheese using sensory analysis based on all five senses
    • Identify textures and their sources
    • Distinguish desired flavors from off flavors for each cheese
    • Learn to 'read' both rind and cheese paste