A significant part of our strict quality control procedures consists of the measurements and samples we take at specific, strategic moments throughout production – both of the milk and the cheese.
For example, an initial sample of the milk is always taken before we start the cheese-making process.
Since we’re dealing with live animals and natural processes, all sorts of bacteria can find their way into the milk.
Not all bacteria, however, are unwelcome as they are simply part and parcel of creating tasty cheese.
But there is always the risk of unwelcome bacteria finding their way into the milk.
There could, for example, be bacteria in the additional feed we provide our cows with. Unwelcome bacteria may also be present on the cows’ teats or because – despite all our precautions – the milking equipment is not quite clean enough.
There are two basic sorts of unwelcome bacteria:
– those that may be consumed and that may affect the taste of the cheese
– those that it’s better not to eat, and which are in fact the target of all our very strict hygiene procedures.
Getting the taste right
Strangely enough, we can judge the way the cheese is ripening – and how it’s going to end up tasting – by tapping it on the outside.
Perfectly ordinary bacteria, that are only unwelcome because of how they affect the taste negatively, create gases.
In plain English, we’re talking about microbial farts that form hollows in the cheese.
The size of these hollows or holes tells us a lot about the sort of bacteria in the cheese!
If they get too large or the cheese starts showing signs of splitting, then that’s the right moment to sell the cheese.
It’s precisely the flatulent bacteria that provide the cheese with its unique, surprising and typical taste.
That word ‘surprising’ is the key to creating quality cheese that continues to delight our customers.
That’s because we welcome these surprises that Nature generates as the cows pass on moulds and bacteria from our local, organically nurtured environment into their milk.
Remember, Remeker cheese is made with raw milk that’s kept at more or less the temperature of the udder.
That’s why both the milk and where the cows pass their time play a crucial and unpredictable part in how the taste of the cheese develops.
Although we currently use a standard commercial starter culture (combined pure strains of bacteria), we are actively experimenting with our very own starter culture.
This is a way to gain more control over the taste of the cheese. Besides, such a step fits with our philosophy of an increasingly closed, local production loop.
This particular part of the production process is both a challenging and complex one that needs a lot of time.
But, just as we innovated by using our own ghee to form the rind, it’s a step that’s totally in line with everything that Remeker stands for.
QUALITY: reflection of Remeker standards
Alongside the conventional monitoring moments that maintain hygiene, we believe that quality reflects the improvements that are still possible.
The cheese is judged on its taste after a specific period, such as 2-3 months for Young Remeker and 8-9 months for Mature Remeker.
The taste tells us all about the history of a particular cheese – yes, even about the weather and what the cows were eating. It’s precisely such factors that affect the milk that’s the prime ingredient of our prize-winning cheese.
These factors could all be perfectly in balance… but they could also be out of balance.
We accept whatever there is, but the result of balance or imbalance is still a mirror for us that we need to look at in order to continue learning.
Even an imbalance tells its own unique story, that can be quite remarkable!
This is the Remeker way of looking at all aspects of cheese making, so that the pursuit of quality drives us on to develop and improve the cheeses we are so passionate about!