Holland knows cheese. They have many cheese makers, thanks to the thousands of milk-producing cows that live there. We always try to stop in for a visit at a family-run cheese business during our annual visits.
Last week while cycling through the town of Gouda (the Dutch pronounce it “How da”), we had the opportunity to get a personal up-close visit of how they make that particular recipe. Although most cheeses start with cows milk, they each have their own special formula and aging process that make them what they are.
The farm we visited makes cheese twice daily five days a week. That is all thanks to their very productive worker cows who produce so much milk. The big heated vat in this photo is where the milk goes immediately after the milking process. It is heated to a certain temperature and is stirred with huge automatic whisks. Once the milk becomes solid, it is removed. The remaining liquid, known a whey, is fed to their 900 plus pigs.
When it solidifies, the cheese is pressed into different sized molds and soaked in a brine.
Then it is transported to a cool room where it is painted with three coats of liquid plastic to preserve it. Then it is aged, anywhere from weeks to months. This determines the mildness of the flavor.
Each farm has its own logo, which you can see stamped here. There is also an identification number for each batch of cheese. This makes it easy to trace the product if there is a problem.
The milk used by this farm is not pasturized before it is used in the cheese. That is what the words raume melk mean.
The tiny specs you see in some of the cheese are herbs that have been added to make a certain type of gouda cheese. They also added peppers to some for a spicy cheese.
The big slabs of cheese are purchased by stores rather than by individuals.
In addition to cheeses, fresh farm eggs were also available in their shop.
After leaving this cheese farm, which was run solely by a husband and wife and their son and daughter-in-law, I was truly thankful that I did not marry a cheese farmer. They have a very difficult and never-ending job. I won’t complain again about the price of cheese. Despite their long hours, they still have a sense of humor as evident in the photo below.