For artisan cheese masters John Moreira and Juan Cabello, home cheese making evolved from growing up helping their parents and grandparents prepare soft and hard cheeses for the family on a daily basis, using fresh milk from the house cow.
"We are both from Spain but Juan's family migrated to Switzerland when he was very young where his family included into their cheese making routine the preparation of Swiss emmental, raclette and other local varieties," John said.
"When we arrived in Australia back in 1995, and soon after settled in the Lower Hunter, the preparation of traditional home cooked meals become part of our normal lives.
"The next step was to prepare fresh ricotta, mozzarella, fetta, camembert, brie, blue vein, cheddar, Swiss and other cheeses using our family's recipes and with fresh milk from our Jersey and Jersey x Normandy cows," he said.
From the early realisation that home cheese making was not as popular in Australia as it was in Europe, where the knowledge was passed down between generations, John and Juan today run a successful business, Australia Home Cheese Making, from their property on the Great North Road at Laguna.
And the word is spreading fast as an increasing number of people are becoming interested in learning this artisan craft.
"Making our own cheese allows us to take control over the ingredients that go into our cheese," John said. "Our cheeses are made using unaltered raw materials and without preservatives."
Making cheese at home allows people to exercise their own "quality control" over the finished product, not to mention the sense of satisfaction gained from mastering a recipe and technique and, of course, enjoying the fruits of their labour.
"We love the preparation, the result and also indulging our friends and family with cheese we have made for them," John said.
In 2005, John and Juan decided to pass on their passion for their craft by offering hands-on cheese making workshops.
In recent years the number of people attending their classes has grown to more than 200 a year.
Classes are conducted at various venues, at their Laguna farm, as well as at private workshops at people's homes and corporate workshops for team building.
Workshops are open to everybody, from the novice to those wanting to further develop their skills.
"The need to learn hands-on is very important for a number of reasons and because people need to be taught according to their needs," John said.
Workshops participants enjoy a home cooked lunch and a cheese platter prepared with a variety of cheeses made on the farm.
At the end of each workshop participants take home their own cheese creation and are taught how to follow the maturing and ripening process.
"Together with lots of theory, we provide detailed recipes ensuring all participants walk away from our courses knowing how to prepare their favourite cheese," John said.
A range of basic cheese making tools, cheese cultures including yoghurts and vegetarian rennet, are available from their website at www.homecheesemaking.com.au
Meet John and Juan this weekend at the Tocal Field Days.