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A Coonoor homestay where guests can learn to make cheese

Umaima Shafiq


Guests live close to nature at a farm stay in Coonoor and also learn to make handmade cheese that is of hard and soft cream varieties.

The private-owned Acres Wild Organic Cheese making Farm Stay in Coonoor, in the Nilgiris is an unusual home stay where guests can learn cheese making and living close to nature.

Mansoor H Khan, the owner of this 22 acre campus, tells The Covai Post, “We are basically from Mumbai and have been living here since 2006, when my parents bought this property. We have about 10 cows of Holstein and Jersey breeds. My wife Tina, learnt cheese making in Mumbai and today we produce around five kilos of cheese daily.

“It is more of handmade cheese and not a big factory or something. We make about six types of hard cheese like Gauda, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, Monterey Jack and also Feta and Haloumi. We also make soft cream cheese in different flavours.”

What about ripening? “Only hard cheeses have to be ripened, Gruyere takes four to five months, Monterey Jack will take two to three months and so on. We supply to only one store in Coonoor, while other customers usually come to purchase at our farm. Our guests also buy.

“We also have a cheese making course exclusively for the guests. It is a paid course of two days for two people at a time. The guests are taught the intricacies of cheese making. We use microbial rennet for curdling milk, so it is all vegan-friendly,” he says.

Tina has trained a helper to assist in the cheese production.

What about the temperature for cheese production? “We have a special cellar which maintains optimum temperature for milk curdling, cheese storage and ripening. So summer and winter doesn’t matter, our cheeses are well preserved and usually sold out,” says Mansoor.

Besides this, Mansoor has a local vet for his cows and prefers a bull for breeding them instead of artificial insemination. “That could be tricky and could fail. The natural way is better,” he says.

So how did he choose Coonoor over Mumbai? Mansoor says, “I have lived and worked in Mumbai but always wanted to live close to nature. So when my parents bought a house here in 1996 and later this farm in 2006, I was happy to shift. My family though hesitant at first is also happy now. Our two children are working in Mumbai. We have a good life here the place is beautiful, with pleasant climate and a good guest list. So it is the best of both worlds.”

Mansoor and Tina have made the farm completely self sustainable. “We have dung-powered (gobar gas) plants for fuel and solar lighting for all buildings. Besides we made our own bricks from the mud here for these buildings,” he says.

Mansoor, who is also an active advocate of sustainable living, has writt en many books and essays. He believes that global economic growth is saturated and the world is in break down mode.
His book titled The Third Curve is available along with other details online at www.acres-wild.com. He also gives lectures regularly all over India on sustainable living.

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