In November, ProCheese Academy and Paul Thomas, technical director of the British Academy of Cheese, completed Theory of Professional Cheesemaking” — a free training course for Ukrainian cheesemakers. Academy of Cheese is an educational organization that promotes professional knowledge of cheesemaking and careers in the cheese field. Such a course was held in Ukraine for the first time.

The project’s initiators were the company-importer and producer of cheese Ardis Group and ProCheese Academy — the first cheese academy in Ukraine training certified cheese professionals  cheesemongers and cheese sommeliers. The awareness-raising project took place with the support of Switzerland as part of the Swiss-Ukrainian Quality FOOD Trade Program.

More than 170 Ukrainian cheesemakers took part in the online training.

The lectures were free and held in a convenient webinar format to support Ukrainian cheesemakers and help them gain knowledge from a world expert. Simultaneous translation of the educational material into Ukrainian was available during the course.

A series of webinars was for cheesemakers of Ukraine who:

  • have been making and selling cheese at a professional level, regardless of production size, for more than 1-2 years;
  • strive to improve their technologies, improve product quality and enter new markets.

The speaker was Paul Thomas, lecturer and technical director of the Academy of Cheese, UK, director and co-founder of the cheese business Urstrom Kaese GmbH, Germany, a dairy technical consultant, hygiene expert, and cheese trainer who supports businesses worldwide. He is the co-author of the European Guide for Good Hygiene Practices in the production of artisanal cheese and dairy products — a document with recommendations for compliance with EU standards. He has a scientific degree in biochemistry (University of Dundee, Scotland).

As Paul Thomas noted, he considers it his moral duty to provide support to Ukrainians. Namely, to assist cheesemakers in improving skills that will help them successfully develop their business and participate in recovering the economy after the war’s end. And then prepare them for trade with the European Union.

What was studied in the course “Theory of professional cheese making”?

1. Control of the craft cheesemaking process — how to ensure quality and reduce product variability.

Paul Thomas explained the complex chemistry of dairy products in an accessible way:

  • process control to ensure quality and reduce product variability;
  • development of acidity monitoring in relation to drainage;
  • coagulation properties monitoring to optimize process management.

2. A detailed overview of the production technology of hard Alpine cheeses, which was voted for by the majority of course participants when choosing the topic of the second webinar.

3. A detailed lecture on the elimination of common cheese defects. Participants had the opportunity to send photos of their products and receive personal recommendations regarding the presence of defects and methods of their elimination.

In this webinar, Paul Thomas covered the following:

  • the most common cheese defects (from gas defects to discoloration, problems with rancidity and mold) and ways to eliminate them;
  • cases with the defect may be a desirable part of the relevant cheesemaking technology.

The topic of hygiene at work and ways to ensure better product quality caused the most questions.

After completing the course, participants learned how to:

  • improve the cheese production process. In particular, they gained a fundamental understanding of processes;
  • avoid common cheese defects affecting its taste and quality;
  • set up safe production;
  • bring their products closer to European quality standards to realize the ambitions of expanding production.

Also, testing will be held soon, after which participants will receive certificates from ProCheese Academy for passing the course.

The organizers note that such educational projects are significant for cheese producers because new knowledge will help them produce even better cheese, increase export potential, and expand Ukrainian brands’ presence in national trade networks.

“I am proud of those actively studying, not waiting for victory, but bringing it closer on the economic front. We are happy to work to provide the best educational opportunities for the Ukrainian cheese industry workers and come closer to victory together! Tell the world Cheese with us, and everything will be Ukraine!”, — the ProCheese community cheese expert and founder of ProCheese Academy, Oksana Chernova notes.

This project was carried out with the support of Switzerland as part of the Swiss-Ukrainian program “Development of trade with higher added value in the organic and dairy sectors of Ukraine”, implemented by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland) in partnership with SAFOSO AG (Switzerland), www. qftp.org.

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