Neither Stu nor I do Christmas. We are a pair of modern day humbugs. So to that extent, it is business as usual except that apart from our usual Wednesday customer order, we have just about wound down. Andrew bought in a box of Quality Street which is remarkably still there, and a chocolate orange which I am resisting and I bought in some mince pies which is about as Christmassy as it gets for us.
Today, Stu potted out Monday’s Tasty Yorkshire make and we both bagged it up and I vac packed it. I then set about collecting all of the outstanding samples to send them to the lab. Depending on how much we have made, I do this about every couple of weeks, so it was my opportunity to get the final few makes vac packed and off to the lab leaving nothing outstanding. We will not be making cheese again until 7th January 2013.
We take a slice of cheese from one cheese at random from each and every batch of cheese we make and we split it into
two, breaking off a piece to taste it ourselves, usually a good initial pointer to ensure that all is as it should be. Both are vac packed separately with one put into the basket marked lab samples and the other half we retain in case we have to retest and if not, we save it for shelf life test samples around BRC time.
Mind you, I do not think we will be doing BRC in 2013, I think we will downgrade to the SCA version of SALSA – a little cheaper and hopefully nothing like the hassle of BRC. I swear to God I almost I had a nervous breakdown last year preparing for Issue 6 BRC. I have a strong sense that the stress of preparing for BRC Issue 6 this year contributed to my getting run down and contracting pneumonia plus I was working stupid hours. Never again; other than Booths, we do not sell to supermarkets, so we really do not need BRC which has become ridiculously over the top in its requirements.
Anyway, back to samples. We save the samples up and sandwich them together to make a composite sample comprising four or so slices of cheese that can be tested in one go. This saves us a fair bit of money as this composite is tested as one sample, compared to being charged for four. I have only recently started to do this. I wouldn’t do it if we regularly got positive lab results, but we don’t (touch wood) and as long as each test comes back negative, it makes a lot of sense to do it this way. Then there is all the paperwork to complete to show in the batch books the date the sample was sent off so that we can easily track it and check that it has been tested before we sell any.
In the meantime, Stu and Andrew have been getting low down and dirty in the dairy. Perhaps I should rephrase that: they have been cleaning the dairy, cleaning the drains out, the wash tank, floor, walls, the legs and sides of all of the equipment. This time of year is a good time to give the dairy a damn good scrubbing to within an inch of its life. Yesterday it was the turn of the wholesale area which is looking very clean and shiny.
Just tomorrow to go. Stu has the day off and Andrew is working elsewhere, so a quiet day: the labs will pick up in the morning and our customer will pick up in the afternoon and that is it……counting down, moi?