Favorite thing: There are some amazing cheese shops around town. Just take a stroll and you're bound to run across some excellent examples. This one is just off Dam Square on Damstraat. As you can imagine, the place has a stong odor, but once you get past that, it's awesome. Every time I walked by, they were doing a swift business, so eventually I had to stop by and check it out for myself.
Dutch Dairy Farming in Netherlands:
60,000 dairy farmers keeping around 2,400,000 dairy cattle.
700 dairy farmers make farmhouse cheese on the farm, for the most part still in the old traditional way.
Fondest memory: Cheese processing: One of the daily tasks undertaken in these cottages.
Learn a little about the making of cheese using the traditional way.
Here, the main type of cheese made is full fat Gouda Cheese. The cheese is made from fresh warm milk straight from the cow. It is not pasteurised & no preservative or coloring is added.
Process of cheese making:
1) The milk goes into the 'kaastobbe' or cheese tub where lactic acid & rennet are added. The lactic acid turns the milk sour quickly & the rennent thickens in less than 1/2 hour. The thickened milk is cut into small pieces so the whey is released & can be drained off, leaving the curds.
2) The curds are then put into cheese barrel which can differ in size to anything from 'pound cheeses' to cheeses of 35 kg each.
3) Linen 'cheesecloth' is laid inside the cheese barrel before the curds are placed in it. The cloth is then carefully folded up & the lid of the barrel placed on top. Then the cheese barrel is put into the press & pressed for about 20 mins.
4) After this, the cheese is removed from the barrel, given the 'farmhouse cheese' mark & a new cheesecloth pressed for another 1-6 hours, depending on the size & weight of the cheese being pressed.
5) After pressing, the cheeses are put into a strong brine known as 'de pekel' which acts as preservative. The cheese stays in the brine for 1-6 days, again depending on the size. In the mean time, it is laid to dry on the cheese planks, turned regularly, given a layer of wax & after 7 weeks, voila, it is ready to be eaten!