Our cheese department recently had a wonderful visit to Holland Family Farms in Thorpe, Wisconsin! This is about as good as it gets in the cheese world. The weather was picture perfect for a farm tour and dining alfresco.
Marieke makes raw milk Gouda with Rolf’s milk from the Penterman Farmstead. Even though the Pentermans are extremely busy folks, they rolled out the red carpet for Seward Community Co-op!
Marieke spent the entire day demonstrating how cheese is made and telling us all how she learned the art and science behind these delicious wheels. Rolf educated us on how their happy cows are cared for in the barn and we even got to hang out with the calves. They are both originally from the Netherlands and Marieke’s Goudas are the most decorated in the United States.
The Pentermans met in Canada while Rolf was (literally) searching the world over for the perfect place to start a dairy farm. Marieke apprenticed at several cheesemakers in Holland to refine her craft and has trained two other female cheesemakers in Thorpe, both of whom have earned their cheesemaker’s license!
We were allowed to enter the make room at the creamery, which is truly a rare treat. The milk was starting to solidify as we met all the cheese making assistants. We were encouraged to feel the gelatinous vat before the curd cutting began. The hooping and pressing of wheels was also timed perfectly for our visit. Marieke personally showed us the caves for aging wheels and we even waxed some of the wheels ourselves.
The Pentermans knew that they had really made it when folks back in the Netherlands began ordering Gouda from the Upper Midwest! The hundreds of ribbons throughout the retail store suggest that most of her incredible Goudas are still enjoyed domestically.
It’s tough to share these phenomenal cheeses with the rest of the world, but we plan on keeping plenty at the Seward Co-op cheese counter for many years! Thank you Marieke and Rolf for this amazing visit and hospitality.