Kaaslust is traditionally crafted in the original dairy factory of the Veenhuizen agricultural community. This community was founded in 1823 as part of the Society of Beneficence. Through his society, General Johannes van den Bosch provided poor families in Drenthe with the opportunity to start new lives as farmers. The area is nominated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Owner Jan Craens has been involved in cheese-making almost his whole working life. For years, he milked his own cows at his farm in the Frisian village of Oudega and made Hooidammer cheese. But demand increased and he did not want to produce on a large scale. So he changed direction, sold the cows and the dairy and went to work as an advisor for farmers wanting to switch to organic production. Along the way, he got involved in the re-designation of vacant buildings in rural areas. That brought him to Veenhuizen, where several buildings from the former farming community lay abandoned and neglected. They included the former dairy factory. The building, dating from 1903, was drab with flaking paint but Jan saw potential. He started making plans to refurbish the grounds of Maallust (Joy of Milling), named after the old mill. A cheese dairy would fit nicely in the old dairy factory. When the restoration was completed, Jan decided to rent it himself and went back to his old craft of cheese-making. He doesn’t use only cows’ milk. He also uses sheep, goat and sometimes buffalo milk. There are differences between the types of milk, and the consistency varies too. “It depends on the season and the feed the cows are being given. Sometimes the milk is yellowish. Then it’s high in fat. Every now and then, drops of oil and even tiny specks of butter are floating in it. You see those drops of oil later in the cheese, it’s really funny.”
Jan makes twelve different kinds of cheese and enjoys the whole process. Not only the fact that he makes the cheeses himself, but also the contacts along the way. He knows the farmers who deliver the milk, the pig farmer who comes to collect the whey from the cheese and he knows his customers. He sells some cheese in the shop, but most of it goes to the hospitality sector.
Working on a small scale, he has the chance to try out new things. A new flavour, a different bacteria culture or another way of maturing. That’s not so
easy for a large company to do, because if it doesn’t work out, ten thousand kilograms of cheese is spoiled. Among others, he is producing cheeses with beer and hop, and cheese that is matured in a barn with walls made out of peat. Currently we offer his delicious buffalo cheese and are looking forward to bring to Singapore some of his other unique cheeses.