OSU dairy processing extension specialist Lisbeth Goddik and her student discuss their Camembert cheese research for the Oregon artisan cheese industry.
Bedecked in hair nets, OSU food science students crowded around four plastic
rectangular vats filled with a milky white liquid. The students stirred, removed
some liquid and added other liquid, and generally marveled as curds slowly
thickened into their final product—Havarti cheese.
“Although these vats look small, they are exactly what cheese makers use
in France,” said Lisbeth Goddik, a professor of food science at OSU.
And she would know. Goddik recently returned from a sabbatical year in France,
where she made all varieties of cheese with similar equipment and perfected
the art and science of artisan cheese making. With help from the Oregon Dairy
Industries, Tillamook Cheese, and a French cheese company, Goddik has now assembled
a small commercial-grade cheese plant on campus, where teaching and research
are already underway.
Artisan cheesemaking is hands-on business in Lisbeth Goddik’s dairy foods class. Students use the same vats and molds that are industry standards in Europe and the U.S. Photos by Lynn Ketchum.
As an OSU Extension dairy processing specialist, Goddik is helping to nurture
the growth of a bustling new artisan cheese industry in Oregon. The number
of small-scale specialty cheese makers has grown statewide from two to 20 over
the last few years. And the industry is reaching new levels of sophistication;
last year, an Oregon blue cheese won first place among more than 1,300 other
competitors nationwide from the American Cheese Society.
Because the new pilot plant at OSU uses industry-standard equipment, Goddik’s
teaching and research are calibrated to the needs of this new industry.
“I think it’s important for all students here to have access to big equipment,
so that when we go to work for the industry we know how to use the tools of
the trade,” said Gwyn McWryn, a student in Goddik’s dairy foods class. Goddik’s
hands-on approach to teaching means no class lectures. Instead, her students
study the course material outside of class and come prepared for discussion,
projects, and analysis.
Goddik returned from France brimming with new ideas for the pilot plant, including
the adaption of a French technique to extend the shelf life of Oregon brie
and camembert cheeses. Goddik hopes to secure additional funding to boost the
pilot plant’s cheese-making capacity to 1,500 pounds per day. She envisions
someday having a cheese plant located at the OSU Dairy Farm where students
would produce and market their own OSU specialty cheese.
“The artisan cheese sector is growing today like the Oregon wine sector was
20 years ago. There are close to 400 wineries in Oregon today, and we’re hoping
in 20 years there may be that many cheese makers in Oregon as well,” she said.
And in this fast-growing industry, Goddik’s students will be leading the whey.