Gouda has become a central part of my life over the years. I grew up nibbling wedges and when I was older, made it daily. We make a variety of flavors of Gouda. From traditional Mild to spicy Jalapeno, from the bold Black Pepper to subtle Sweet Red Pepper. Our wide variety of this creamy cheese makes it easy for us to find a good fit for almost anyone… after some sampling of course! This cheese has been in our family for years, and though we have a wide variety now, it had a much simpler beginning.
My Pake’s absolute dream while growing up was to be a farmer. I doubt the thought of being a cheese maker even entered his mind! Born in 1927, Jack Appel was the eldest son of the local milk man. However, it was hard to pursue his farming dreams during the occupation of Holland in WWII. Civilians were commonly drafted into forced labor so my Grandfather spent much of his teen years staying out of sight from any German soldiers. Hardly the time to find a farming job!
After the liberation of the Netherlands, Paka found a job with a local farmer where he worked and learned the basics of farming. A few years later, at age 19, he moved to France to assist another farmer. It was this farmer who also made cheese 6 days a week, so part of my Grandfather’s job was to assist with this process as well. It was here he first developed the cheese making skills he would carry with him for the rest of his life.
Jack immigrated to America in 1950 where he knew he would have a better chance of being a farmer than in Holland. In 1958, after marrying his wife Audrey in 1957, the new couple made the big move to Washington State. Eventually he realized his dream by purchasing a farm here in Ferndale, in March of 1967. This is the same farm he and his wife raised their five children on, three of whom are still involved in the daily running of it!
Although farming had always been his dream job, Jack continued to make cheese as gifts for his friends and family. It wasn’t until he had sold the farm to his sons and was very much encouraged by those who had tried his cheese that he started to develop his hobby into a business. I suspect he had too much time on his hands… it’s hard to tell a farmer to stop working! Eventually his sons bought this part of the farm as well and have continued to build upon the foundation laid by their father.
If you ask me which Gouda’s are my favorite I would point out the Aged and the Cumin. Many of my cousins would probably say the same. Why? Because they are the ones that remind me the most of my Pake. The Aged is traditionally drier with a bite only known to lovers of aged cheeses. It’s also the only cheese we still seal with a traditional rind coating. The Cumin has a little more of a nutty flavor from the tiny seeds speckling the finish. These two are my favorites due to growing up on the excellent flavors, but also because they were first handcrafted by a man whom I will always remember with great love and respect.