Handing me a glass, Anita de Boer of Tenino’s TUNaWERTH Creamery says, “This is what milk should taste like. It’s like nothing you’ve tasted.”
The milk, Anita explained, is simply whole milk straight from the cow. I’d told her earlier I couldn’t drink whole milk from the grocery store. It was too thick, too rich, and the way it coated my mouth made it impossible to drink from a glass. “It’s over-processed,” Anita explained. “That’s why. You aren’t getting the whole benefits of the milk!”
My first sip of TUNaWERTH’s milk was tentative. I held the milk in my mouth a moment, trying to put words to the texture. The texture was not heavy and thick. It was smooth and easily lay in the bottom of my mouth, not overfilling my mouth with a strong heavy coat of sweet. It was of medium consistency. Not at all like skim from the grocery, but also not at all like whole. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, but overall, the feel of the milk in my mouth was exquisite.
Since all TUNaWERTH’s cattle are grass-fed, it follows the milk takes on subtle tastes unique to the vegetation of the area. This component isn’t so easily quantified. But I found the flavors mellow and soothing. As unfamiliar as this milk was, the flavors felt natural in my mouth. There was no bitterness and there was no overwhelming sweetness. When I swallowed, there was no slightly sour aftertaste you can get with over-processed milk. The only way I can describe it is my mouth felt clean and ready for another gulp. I drank the rest of the glass and I realized I could easily come to love this splendid elixir!
Peter and Anita de Boer hail from the Netherlands. Peter had many relatives in the dairy business and grew up around cattle. He learned the business growing up and desired it for his life’s work. Because there are strict requirements in the Netherlands for dairy operations, the De Boer’s made the move to the U.S., where they were easily able to start their venture.
TUNaWERTH uses low-temperature pasteurization, which kills harmful bacteria. The milk is heated in small batches to a lower temperature of about 145 degrees for 30 minutes, then quickly cooled. This process, while not as efficient as the traditional pasteurization process used by mammoth dairy corporations, minimizes the impact on the taste of the milk and contributes to that overall minimal processing, farm to table benefit upon which TUNaWERTH has built their reputation.
There are two components to the operation. The first is the actual dairy, where the cows are milked. The milk is transferred to the creamery, where it becomes the main ingredient for all other products. Peter and Anita’s son Peter manages the dairy. Peter, Anita, and son Eelke work the creamery.
The creamery is surprisingly small with four rooms about the size of a double garage. The facility is pristine. Each compact area has a specific purpose.
In one room, I watched Eelke fill containers from a medium-sized stainless tank and manually screw on the lids. Always having pictured this done on some sort of humongous inhuman assembly line, I was momentarily entranced watching him cap the bottles. “We do all our bottling by hand,” Anita said.
Next, she showed me the room where the Gouda is aged. Several types are available – garlic and parsley, cumin, cumin and cloves, nettle, red pepper, red pepper and jalapeño, black truffle, and hops. The hops are local, from Three Magnets Brewing Company in Olympia. There are also Moon Rocks, cheddar curds that are deep-fried for a tasty pub treat.
The low-temperature pasteurized milk and cream are the main product and that from which all other products are created. In addition to the wide variety of flavored Gouda’s, there are Mozzarella, Feta, and Ricotta cheeses. The Greek yogurt is a top seller. For a complete product listing, see TUNaWERTH’s Facebook page.
TUNaWERTH’s products are available wholesale and are sold in several smaller retail outlets and food establishments throughout Thurston, Lewis and Mason counties or purchase directly from the creamery.
16510 Melville Rd. S.E.