Cookbooks/ Profiles

Cheeses of South Africa

By Kobus Mulder with Russel Wasserfall (Sunbird)

There’s nothing more delicious than finding the perfect partners for your cheese board. ZAZA MOTHA chatted to artisan cheesemakers about their latest creations – who knows, they might just become your new favourites!

Langbaken Karoo Cheese
Based in the middle of the Great Karoo, husband and wife team Francy and Peter Schoeman run their farmhouse cheesery
at a family farm in the Williston area, and produce artisanal cheese from a small herd of Jersey cows. The cheese is  “handcrafted using traditional farmhouse methods. It’s made from raw, unpasteurised milk and organic as far as possible,” says Peter.
“The cheese has a natural rind, which means there is no cheese coat or wax used. The natural moulds grow on the cheese, imparting a unique and rustic flavour.” The star in this cheesery is the Langbaken Karoo Blue. “It has the most
wonderful, intense flavours without being overpowering,” says Peter.
“I wanted to make what I call a gentle blue that would suit most palates.” “Karoo Blue has a rough, rustic rind and blue streaks that run through the pale yellow interior,” adds Francy. “It has a spicy blue flavour and a crumbly texture.”

We recommend
Langbaken’s range includes Karoo Swiss (Swiss style with a sweet hint of caramelised onion), Karoo Crumble (mature hard cheese with a tangy bite and a dry crumbly texture), Karoobossie (hard cheese with a fresh zesty taste), Alanna (semi-soft cheese with a natural-washed rind), Karoo Ash (ash-coated Camembert with interesting flavours),  Camembert (traditional French-style soft cheese) and feta (soft cheese with a creamy texture and a dry finish). Email [email protected] or call 053-391-4161.

Karoo Goat’s Milk Products
Owned by brothers and sheep farmers Jan and Dries Wiese, Karoo Goat’s Milk Products is situated on the Biesiespoort farm outside Loxton in the Great Karoo. “We use full-cream goat’s milk and don’t use preservatives,” says Karoo Goat’s Milk cheesemaker Aubrey Potgieter. “The whole production is done by hand: cutting, stirring, moulding and then the maturing of the cheese.” The star in this cheesery is the Cheese Delight – cottage cheese balls packed in olive oil. “The cheese has a wonderful texture: creamy and mild, plain or with a garlic and pepper mix. The balls are preserved in olive oil.”

We recommend
The range includes young and mature Cheddar, feta, haloumi, cottage cheese (plain, rosemary and olive, and pepper) and cottage cheese balls. Visit wiesebusinesstrust.co.za or call 053-381-3104.

La Petite France

Although it oozes French flair, La Petite France is based in the misty Winterskloof Valley of Hilton in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, where the high humidity, moderate day and low night temperatures greatly influence the flavours. Owned by Leon Combrinck and Geré Victor, the cheeses are made with 100 per cent hormone-free Jersey milk, which, in keeping with the French tradition, is not pasteurised. “We do not add any artificial flavourings, colourants, preservatives or stabilisers, and to date we are the only producers of handmade Camembert, Brie and Grand Brie in South Africa, made according to  traditional French methods,” says Geré. La Petite France’s cheese star is their Camembert. “Depending on individual preference, you can enjoy our Camembert very young (two to three weeks), mature (four to six weeks) or very mature (eight to 10 weeks).”

We recommend
La Petite France’s range includes Camembert, Brie, Grand Brie, Hilton Blue, Tilsiter and feta with sun-dried tomatoes and oregano preserved in olive oil. Email [email protected] or call 033-343-3487.

Mooigelegen Boerenkaas

Family owned Mooigelegen Boerenkaas produces boerenkaas with different flavours, namely plain, coriander, mixed herbs and peppercorns. The cheesery is situated on Mooigelegen farm in the Heidelberg district of the southern Cape. Boerenkaas originates from The Netherlands and is a type of Gouda. “The cheese does not have that distinctive yellow colour – it is the more natural light yellowish colour of real cheese,” says cheesemaker Maretha Wessels. The cheese is produced by hand on the farm and in small batches. Made from full-cream Jersey milk and using a special recipe, cheese is poured into round moulds to set in salt water. It is then placed on wooden planks to age, developing the flavours and aromas that make a great boerenkaas.

We recommend
Mooigelegen Boerenkaas comes in plain, coriander, mixed herbs and peppercorn flavours. Email  [email protected] or call 028-722-1840 / 076 262 6205.

Puglia Cheese
The birth of Puglia Cheese stems from a passion to bring authentic Italian products to South Africa. As a seasoned professional in the catering industry, Davide Ostuni spent most of his time in Cape Town in the early 90s and was reminded of his home town of Puglia in Italy. Davide convinced his friend, Italian restaurateur Fabio Fatelli, and mozzarella maestro Cosimo Rotolo to come on board when establishing the Puglia brand locally. The award-winning burrata  mozzarella is the star in the Puglia range. “It is the jewel of fresh cheeses,” says Davide. “It is interesting to look at and has a supreme creamy centre that is just waiting to ooze over your pasta or pizza.”

We recommend
The Puglia range is extensive and includes nodini, stracciatella (handripped mozzarella fior di latte soaked for 24 hours in double cream and spices), scamorza (a cow’s milk spun cheese that is left hanging during the ripening process),  provolone spargo (uses cow’s milk and sheep milk from the Karoo), caciotta, mozzarella fior di latte (bocconcini or smoked fior di latte) and ricotta. Visit www.pugliacheese. co.za or call 021-900-5900.

Belnori Boutique Cheesery

The Belnori Boutique Cheesery in Benoni is owned by Norman and Rina Belcher who started out with just four goats; they now have 140. “We have a unique way of waxing our semi-hard cheeses and have an African range of cheeses that we decoupage rather than wax,” says Rina. The star cheese in this range is the award-winning Kilimanjaro, which has a slight  nutty flavour with sweet undertones. “Kilimanjaro is a truckle-shaped, curd washed cheese and weighs in at roughly 3,5kg. The large truckle weighs about 10kg. All our cheeses are made from pasteurised milk obtained from our own herd  and are handcrafted. Norman and I make the cheese ourselves,” says Rina.

We recommend
Tanglewod (plain and tangy), Driftwood (with diced black olives), Mulderswood (Madagascar green peppercorn flavour), Amberwood (citrus flavour), Nederwood (with cumin seeds), chèvre balls, Camembert and Reine-Brie. Visit www. belnori.co.za or call 011-964-3405.

Cheeses of South Africa by Kobus Mulder with Russel Wasserfall celebrates some of the top SA cheesemakers who are revolutionising the way we taste and appreciate cheese. Looking at flavourful cheeses handcrafted from cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo milk, this beautifully photographed book offers insight into the producers, their farms and their stories. R225, Sunbird.

SOURCES
Photographs by Russel Wasserfall

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