Early in the morning, raw milk from the storage tank is pumped into the cheese vat. During pasteurization, the milk is heated to 145° for 30 minutes. Then the milk is cooled back down to 85°. Gouda cultures are mixed in for 20 minutes. Next, rennet is added, which makes the milk coagulate. After about a half hour, the milk sets up and knives are used to cut the curds. The curds separate from the whey and are cut down further to about pea size. The whey is then drained from the vat. The curds are packed into molds that create 20-pound “wheels” of cheese. It takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese, and each batch of cheese yields 14–15 wheels. The cheese molds are flipped four times during the total press time of six hours.
After the cheese wheels are taken off of the press, they are then placed in a brine, or salt, solution. They are flipped every 12 hours for the next four days. This adds salt to the cheese and initiates the formation of the rind. The cheese is then dried for one day before an edible coating is applied to prevent it from drying out. The burnt orange rind on our Frisian Farms Gouda replicates the characteristic color of the traditional Gouda wheels of Holland.
Once the coating is dry, the wheel is ready for aging. Affinage, or ripening, of the cheese occurs in a climate controlled room where the cheese is stored on shelves at a temperature of 54° with a humidity level of 86%. Each wheel is flipped daily for the first two months, and then every week thereafter. Frisian Farms Gouda is aged for a minimum of eight weeks, which gives it a mild, fresh taste. The flavors intensify as the cheese ages through the years, developing a caramel sweetness and sometimes a slight crunchiness from protein crystals that form in the well-aged cheese.