Frisian Farms
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About Us
Mike Bandstra grew up on a small dairy farm south of Pella. While Mike was in high school, his dad sold the cows after their family farm was annexed into the city. To his surprise, Mike soon missed the cows. He changed his college major from Accounting to Dairy Science and, after graduating from Iowa State University, took a job with Horizon Organic Dairy in Maryland as a herd manager.

Mike’s brother, Jason, also developed the desire to get back into dairying. Jason bought some bottle calves, grew the herd, and started milking. Mike moved back to Iowa and joined Frisian Farms with Jason. The brothers soon dreamt of a way to add value to the dairy…making cheese. Influenced by their Dutch heritage and community, Gouda seemed to be the perfect choice. Gouda is a semi-hard cheese named after a Dutch town in the province of South-Holland, and accounts for more than 60% of the cheese produced in the Netherlands.

They were quick to learn that the cheese making process is both an art and a science. In order to make Frisian Farms Gouda in the proper Dutch fashion, they invited a Dutch cheesemaker to their farm to teach them techniques that would produce a cheese that reflects the perfection of a process that developed over hundreds of years.

After six years of making cheese, the processing and storage areas were outgrown. This presented an opportunity to move the cheese facilities to a more convenient location, and in 2015 the Frisian Farms Cheese House was built.

Make Room

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.
Brine Room

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.
Aging Room:

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.