Carrickfergus makers of artisan Gouda seek help to set up their own cheese factory

A Carrickfergus couple are appealing for pledges to help set up their own local cheese factory.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 3:02 pm

Carol, a retired receptionist and Olav Koster, a Dutch native living in Northern Ireland for the past 20 years, took the decision to make their own artisan Gouda when they realised there was a shortage.

Due to new import rules and charges since Brexit, specialty cheeses such as Gouda have become harder to find on supermarket shelves.

In fact, in 2021 imports of these goods have dropped by 68, according to the couple’s company Carrickfergus Cheese. 

Carol Koster with some of the produce made by Carrickfergus Cheese.

Finding it difficult to get hold of their favourite cheese from the EU due to extra regulations, the couple tried to source from mainland UK.

However, they came up against longer delivery times due to increased paperwork, which meant that the cheese would be spoiled by the time it arrived.

They now make the semi-soft cheese themselves in a variety of flavours including cumin, fennel and smoked paprika.

The self-taught cheesemakers use locally produced milk from Baird’s Dairy Farm.

The cheese is available in flavours such as cumin and fennel.

The farm uses a specific breed of cow, the Fleckvieh, to produce non-homogenised milk with fat content as high as five percent.  “The higher the fat content, the better the cheese,” said Olav.

With 60 customers and restaurants already interested in the cheese when it becomes available, the couple has launched an official appeal to get their cheese-making business off the ground.

“We’re passionate about bringing quality speciality cheese back to Northern Ireland. Just because we aren’t in the EU anymore, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have access to a wide variety of cheeses,” explained Carol.

“At present we can only sell to friends and family as we need a commercial kitchen.  

“The new cheese parlour will be located at the farm, and will consist of a sluice room, manufacturing area and a maturing room.”

The new facility will cost £30,000 to establish and will be the only Gouda cheese-making facility in Northern Ireland.

It would allow production to increase from two cheeses per week to more than 50.

“I hope to be able to offer an apprenticeship at some stage in the future to let a young person learn to make cheese,” Carol added.

To support the campaign, visit the Carrickfergus Cheese Kickstarter page.

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