The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.

Description

Farmstead cheese is a raw-milk cheese that is made of the milk of cows, sheep and goats that are kept within a 3 mile radius from the cheese dairy. The fresh, unpasteurised milk is acidified and subsequently coagulated with rennet during around 25 to 40 minutes. This process imitates the first digestion stage in a calf’s stomach. The coagulated milk will become thick and is cut, leaving curds.  These are drained with warm water, which makes them shrink and partly washes out the lactose (milk sugar). Because sugar is transformed into acid during ripening, the taste of the farmstead cheese will be a bit sweeter this way. The curds are put into vats and pressed. Finally the cheese is salted, coated and ripened. By ripening various flavours will develop, the well-known young, matured, aged and even over-aged cheese, ranging from 4 to 6 weeks old up to more than a year old. The flavour of farmstead cheese is special. Due to the use of raw milk there are regional differences, which can be tasted. The different rations of the animals, different breeds and seasonal differences can also be tasted in the cheese.

 

Community

The community consists of the farmers and farmer’s wives who prepare farmstead cheese on a daily basis in their dairy. The Gouda farmstead cheese is still made by more than thirty cheesemakers. Only a few of the other farmstead cheese makers are still active: nine are making the Leidse Boerenkaas met Sleutels (a cheese from Leiden) and only one makes Edam farmstead cheese. The Boerenkaasvereniging (Farmstead Cheese Association) being established, assumes the care for the tradition. This Association wants to be an association in which all farmstead cheese makers are united, and to promote their interests.

 

History

Cheese has been made for hundreds of years in the Netherlands. In spring the cows got calves and until the end of the summer much grass grew on the meadows, resulting in a high milk production of the cows. Consequently there was always much summer milk available. In winter, however, the cows stood ‘dry’, they gave no milk because the calf had grown out and a new calf had not been born yet. Due to this fact, there was little or no fresh milk available. Hence, people started to process the summer milk into cheese, so that also in winter a fresh and nutritious foodstuff would be available.  The milk churns were cooled in ditches and canals. In the past, milking was done by hand. Nowadays, apart from milk machines, there are milk robots. But the milk is pumped many times in the robot, and this can be tasted in the farmstead cheese. Therefore there are hardly any farmers who make farmstead cheese with a milk robot. Before the introduction of the cooperations, which started to pasteurise the milk (heat it up to 162° F), all famers made farmstead cheese from milk that was not immediately sold as drinking milk.

 

Contact

Boerenkaasvereniging i.o.