Marieke Penterman, Holland's Family Cheese

A special pipeline brings milk directly from the dairy barn to the factory that is 50 yards away. When the milk fills up the cheese vat, it is so fresh and still warm from the cow's body, we actually have to wait for it to cool down before we turn it into cheese.

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Rolf and Marieke Penterman are first-generation Wisconsin dairy farmers having moved from the Netherlands to Wisconsin in 2002. Because Holland is so small and the population so dense, farmers are limited in how much land they can obtain for dairying. Having both grown up on small, 60-head dairy farms in the eastern part of Holland, Rolf and Marieke wanted to pursue their passion for dairy farming in an area that would afford them the capabilities of expansion.

In 2004, Marieke began working towards getting her Wisconsin cheesemaker's license and also traveled back to the Netherlands in order to learn the process of making "boerenkaas," the authentic farmstead Dutch Gouda cheese.

The milk comes directly to Marieke from the dairy barn where the milk is so warm she needs to cool it down a bit to interact correctly with the enzymes that are added.  The milk "settles" for about an hour and cheese is within 5 hours from the time the cows are milked.  This also allows no time for bacteria to enter the process.  The Penterman's 850 cow herd consists of mainly Holstein cows and 1 jersey for good measure.  All the milk is r-bgh free.

The curd is formed and packed into 18lb. forms before being pressed. Cheeses are then placed in a brine solution for 60 hours, after which the wheels are transferred to the maturing room where they are aged on Dutch pine boards. Cheeses are turned daily for the first two weeks to ensure even moisture distribution, and a permeable coating is painted on the cheese.  Wheels continue to be turned frequently for the duration of their maturation.  Marieke's Gouda-style cheese gets better and better with age and the flavor is balanced with sweet notes of hay, roasted nuts and butterscotch.

 

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Awards

With over 40 awards to her credit, it's hard to name them all!

  • US Cheese Championship 2011 Best of Class Marieke Gouda Super (18-24 months) and Marieke Gouda Young (2-4 Months)
  • US Cheese Championship 2007 Best of Class Marieke's Foenegreek Gouda
  • 2nd place for Marieke's Foenegreek Gouda in the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest
  • 2nd place for Marieke's Plain Gouda in the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest

Videos

Marieke shared her story at our Meet the Cheesemaker night.  Take a look!