CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) — For the Carters, it all started with a magazine article about homemade cheese making and one sweet cow.
Four years later, Heather Carter, mother of four, has seven cows and a dozen different cheeses either on the dining table, aging in the "cheese cave" or curding in the kettle.
"I liked making my own bread and jam and thought, 'Cheese, that's the next step,'" Carter said recently in her kitchen on her 5-acre property just north of Cedar City.
While talking about the ways to make her cheeses, like brie and Asiago, her husband, Travis Carter, worked in the garage building bee boxes to begin making raw honey.
The Carters enjoy working on self-sufficiency at their home, Nature Hill Farms, providing their own eggs, raw milk, cheese, butter and eventually beef.
Heather said she started making cheese with store-bought milk first, but it was "hit and miss," and when she tried raw milk, she noticed a huge, positive difference in flavor.
"Fresh milk really makes a difference," she said.
Raw milk has not been pasteurized. Carter said she is working on receiving a state license that would allow her to start a Grade A dairy business so she can sell the raw cow milk and cheeses, which she cannot yet do because of state law. Utah does allow the sale of raw milk after the producer is licensed. The milk and its other products will be tested every month and the cows checked by a veterinarian every six months to maintain the license, according to State Rule R7-330.
Not everyone is a fan of raw milk, and the FDA recommends not using it because it can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 800 people in the U.S. have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.
Carter said her children switched to raw milk when the family bought their cows and did not show any signs of illness or change in diet.
Until the state licensing procedure is complete, which Carter said would be in time for the farmers market season this summer, she is providing cheese-making classes so others can make cheese at home for their families.
Since she started teaching classes in January, she has taught more than 75 people in seven different classes ranging from beginner to advanced.
With a master's degree in education, Carter has the experience to create curriculum, pick out texts and teach a fast-paced course.
Marilyn Cydwell of Las Vegas is one of those students, many of whom have come from Northern Utah and Nevada to take the classes.
"I'm one of those city gals that's headed for the country, and I've always wanted to make cheese," Cydwell said, noting she is moving to Cedar City and has become friends with Carter in the process. "I just typed in 'Cedar City' online to see what was available and up popped this class."
Cydwell said she has made mozzarella and a ricotta that was "so-so, but you know, Rome wasn't built in a day."
Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.