When you come from a place known for cheese — the Netherlands— you might find Canada’s cheese markets don’t quite melt your homesick heart.
Saskia and Hans Sloeserwij found a creative solution to that problem when they started making their own cheese right here in Midland in 2011, and it’s very gouda.
“Being a cheese-master doesn’t mean anything in Canada,” says Hans Sloeserwij explaining the certification his wife, Saskia, holds from her fromager training in the Netherlands.
Hans notes that in Germany, you can be a beer master if you know a lot about beer. And, in the Netherlands, where they take their love of lavish lactose creations seriously, being a cheese-master is a title of distinction.
It’s one held by Midland’s most inventive cheese-maker, Saskia Sloeserwij. She and her husband Hans own and operate Say Cheese where they have made sheep’s milk gouda in the European tradition for the last decade.
The couple chose sheep’s milk for their cheese because it’s really high in fat, proteins and vitamins and lower in lactose. Put simply, “it’s higher quality milk,” says Hans.
“A lot of people say that they are lactose intolerant. Mostly, that’s because cow’s milk protein is harder to digest for humans,” explains Hans.
Sheep’s milk, like goat’s milk that is considered hypoallergenic, is gentler on the human gut microbiome because the lactose content is so low. According to the Say Cheese website, approximately 90 percent of lactose-intolerant people can have sheep's milk as an alternative.
When Saskia and Hans were considering how to enter into the competitive cheese market in Ontario, they tried to find a cheese that is not common in Ontario. That is what gave our Dutch cheese-master the idea of sheep’s gouda.
“As a cheese-maker, you are always fine-tuning,” says Hans of the process he and Saskia entered into when making their products.
Ninety per cent is already in the recipe, says Hans. Saskia’s recipe is Dutch, and the couple are proud of that tradition. The rest of his tweaks were mostly process-oriented, and incorporated his talent for making things efficient.
For his customers’ tastes, the bestsellers are the dill and garlic flavoured varieties.
For Hans, being a traditionalist, his favourite cheese they make is plain gouda.
“No spice, no herbs, just cheese,” says Hans. “The texture is gummy,” he says with an audible smile.
All of Say Cheese’s products are made with local sheep’s milk. Their new goat’s and cow’s cheeses, available in the coming weeks, are all made with milk from Ontario dairy and goat farms.
You can find Say Cheese at Foodland locations in Midland, Coldwater and Elmvale. They also have stalls at the Midland and Barrie Farmer’s Markets.
Hans and Saskia welcome guests at Say Cheese 6353 Line 4 N in Midland. They ask that you call in advance before you visit — (705) 835-2887.