Forge Garden Tour – Santa Clara University – Santa Clara

Last month, I attended an event for Santa Clara University Alumni at the campus garden. We took a tour of The Forge Garden which is one block off campus then had a mozzarella making workshop after. The price of admission was $10 and came with a tour, cheese workshop, wine and beer, and snacks. Santa Clara University makes its own wine called Mission Wine and proceeds help fund scholarships to the students.

Mission Wine Collection is sold on VinoShipper if you’re interested in purchasing. I tasted the Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon, they’re quite nice and mellow.

In the middle of the garden is a house that is used as the office. The house was built by civil engineering students entering in a previous year’s competition for the most sustainable house. There are solar panels on the roof and parts of the insulation was made with recycled denim!

For a video version of this post, watch this Youtube video.

Certain beds at the Forge Garden are used for experiments in farming or agricultural technology. Other harvested items are sold at the weekly farm stand in front of the garden. Tours like this one were also given regularly. There is a chicken coop at the corner of the garden and the chickens roam freely. Their eggs are not sold at the farm stand as there isn’t enough to supply the demand. Instead, the eggs are donated to partnering elementary schools where they are used in cooking demos for the children. All compostable waste is put in a compost area to be used later.

Our mozzarella class started with pouring Straus Family milk into pots and heating up to a certain temperature while stirring. Citric acid and Rennet are added.

Then the whey is separated from the curds by straining.

All the curds are formed into a ball which is heated more, stretched, and heated again.

Our instructor was helping to stretch ours but it was still hard so we had to heat the ball again.

Finally, whoa la! Fresh pulled mozzarella with vine ripened tomatoes from the garden and balsamic vinegar. My son’s little baby hand trying to reach for a bite. Mozzarella making was fun and interesting. It sounds easy as I simplified the directions above but its actually very laborious. Its hard to get the soft pillowy texture. Forget about how they make burrata, that creamy consistency must be very difficult to achieve. Now I know why fresh mozzarella balls cost so much!

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