Grass cheese (in Dutch: graskaas) is the creamiest type of Dutch cheese.
But, why is grass cheese so creamy? And: when is grass cheese available?
Grazing in spring
At the beginning of spring, the farmer lets his cows out. After a long autumn and winter in the stable, the cows are finally allowed to go out into the pasture. This moment of grazing is celebrated happily by the frolicking ‘dairies on legs’.
The dairy farmer himself decides when he lets his cows out. So, there is no fixed date for this. Logical, because some years the pasture is more swampy than the other. And hundreds of cow hooves over a flooded meadow results in a trampled piece of ground. Therefore, it is possible that the farmer prefers to wait for a week. In addition, the weather forecasts must be good, as a farmer you do not want (if it starts to freeze, for example) that your cows have to go back into the barn after a while. This would cause unnecessary stress in the herd. Although the month of March sometimes already offers beautiful sunny days, many farmers therefore choose not to send their cows outside until April. The chance of rainy weather in March is simply too great.
What does a cow eat?
A cow that is indoors eats stable feed. This is usually a mix of dried grass (hay) and concentrates. When the cows are in the meadow, they graze their meal over there. However, because the pasture contains little grass at the beginning of spring, the ration in the first grazing period is usually supplied with stable feed. This period of mixed feeding generally lasts about 3 weeks. So only after 3 weeks (!) grazing the cow rumen is really filled with fresh spring grass.
So, what is grass cheese?
Grass cheese is cheese made from the milk the cows give after grazing. Grass cheese therefore refers to the natural green feed of the cows. The grass cheese made from this milk is smoother than cheese made from ‘stable milk’. This has to do with the soft omega fats that the grass contains. Unlike stable feed, these fats are unsaturated. And you can taste this in the cheese!
Farmers grass cheese
Our Stolkse Boeren grass cheese is available later than grass cheese from the factory. This is because of the low-lying polders around Gouda where our cheese farmers graze their cows. Because the polders here are swampy for much longer, the farmer often chooses not to let his cows out too early in the spring. If the dairy farmer farmed on higher sandy soil, he would be able to let his cows out sooner. Sandy soil is less swampy and therefore more suitable for grazing.
Grass cheese, when available?
Stolkse Boeren grass cheese is available from June 1st.
Just count with us:
|Mid-April||Cows go outside for the first time.|
|End of April||Cows only eat fresh spring grass.|
|Beginning of May||The farmer makes the first grass cheese.|
|Mid-May||The grass cheese is stored in the cheese warehouse to mature.|
|Beginning of June||The first grass cheese (Aged 4-6 weeks) is ready for sale.|
Source: Our in-house dairy technologist Ben Weijers