A Dutch Farmhouse cheese, also known as Boeren Kaas.
Literally translated as ‘Farmers cheese’ its a raw milk cheese made from a combination of cow, sheep, goat & buffalo milk in the style of Gouda which accounts for more than half of Hollands cheese production.
History of Boerenkaas
Gouda was first mentioned in manuscripts dating back to 1100s.
Today, most Dutch Gouda is mass produced using machinery. However over 300 producers now make the more traditional Boerenkaas. In Holland the cheese making has usually been the role of the women of the house with mothers passing the duties down to their daughters.
Due to the cheese being made on many farms its important to know whereabouts the cheese came from as the terroir and hand making techniques can alter the flavour profile quite considerably.
Most Boerenkaas is made from May until October when the herd is out in the field eating fresh Spring grass.The term ‘Gouda’ however is not protected under the EU regulations and therefore can be produced globally but Noord-Hollandse Gouda & Boerenkaas are.
Boerenkaas cheese are to follow the following regulations as well as many other to ensure the cheese is made to the same strict guidelines and therefore ensuring its quality and longevity.
* Must be made by hand on the farm
* The milk is not to be heat treated
* Fresh milk is only to be used
* The milk must be turned into cheese within 40 hours of milking
* Wash curds in hot water
* The curd must never rise above 37C
* Certain additives maybe used (there’s a list and guidelines for these too)
Many farms make a Boerenkaas which starts showing its distinctive taste after 9 months and will be perfect for aging up to 3 years.
The cheeses are placed into moulds creating a 12kg wheels with rounded edges, its at this stage the cheeses are branded with the name Boerenkaas, codes relating to the farm where the cheese is produced and the lineage.
After the required pressing and turning the cheese is soaked in a 20% brine solution.
This cheese has many variations as mentioned above and as the cheese ages the flavour profile intensifies. having said that the cheese is a wax/paraffin wax coated hard cheese that exhibits flavours ranging from young and fresh grass notes with nutty characteristics to a butterscoth sweetness with the classic ‘crunch’ due to the crystalisation of the milk proteins as the cheese ages.
Never dismiss this cheese as they range quite considerably and when you find one you like remember the area and the producer so you always have your favourite on hand.
Paired with a full bodies red wine or Classic Dutch beer when young and with a Fortified as the cheese ages.