The Cheese-making Process

We make our Gouda with a native Dutch recipe and cheese culture shipped fresh from Wisconsin. The milk is pasteurized, and the culture is added to produce curds, which are cut by hand, packed in forms (called hoops), and pressed. The finished cheeses are immersed in salt brine, then cured in a refrigeration room where we turn and inspect them daily. During the first four days of production, a special rind is handpainted on each cheese. This allows the cheese to breathe while it ages. During the natural process of aging, the cheese takes on a richer flavor and color, ranging from soft yellow to a deep gold. Prior to shipment, we dip each cheese in a protective red wax coating. All this work is done by the Sisters: cheesemaking, packaging and shipping, as well as mail-order marketing. The Grade A milk is purchased through Dairy Farmers of America and delivered fresh from the farm (in all types of weather!).


Watch us make our cheese, and read about the process…


  • This is the heart of this cloister nun community…

A beautiful, holy mystery that´s unfolding here:

CBN News by Heather Sells

  • Nuns making Gouda cheese in Monastery barn in Crozet

NBC12 by Terrance Dixon



Distinction Magazine Vol. 19 Edition 2013

The sky is dark and the stars mountainside-bright when the first sisters walk through the disinfectant solution at the doorway of the cheese barn – “crossing the Red Sea,” they sometimes joke – and change into knee-high rubber boots, hairnets and bulbous ear protection.

They switch on lights and open valves to send scalding water rushing into the outer ring of a stainless steel, 8-foot-tall double boiler filled with 6,200 pounds of buttery milk from grass-fed cows. A spigot of steam foams the top as if it were a giant latte, the fierce noise further enforcing the sisters’ silence. After half an hour they replace the hot water with cold, and still it takes an hour to cool the now-pasteurized milk enough to begin its transformation into red-waxed rounds of gouda that will wear the name Monastery Country Cheese.

Read more… God & Gouda


  • Prayerful Nuns Produce Heavenly Cheese

Voice of America

Every day, at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in the
foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the 13
resident nuns gather for prayer.
Theirs is a simple Christian life of worship and meditation.
The sisters also follow the Benedictine tradition of
combining prayer with work. For the past 20 years,
they’ve made their own version of Gouda, the flavorful
cheese which originated in the Netherlands.
Sister Barbara Smickel, who co-founded the monastery
25 years ago, says that while it is not the most important
part of their life, work is still very important.
“I just think working for a living is a good thing…our life is
pretty intense; there’s a lot of silence, a lot of prayer, a lot
of meditation in it and I think the balance of using our
bodies in a healthy way is very important for that,” she says. “We use our bodies and the gifts God
has given us of mind and heart and body to support ourselves and we find a special satisfaction in
making a wholesome product to do that.”

Read more… Prayerful Nuns Produce Heavenly Cheese


  • Virginia’s cheesemaking nuns keep their Gouda in the red (wax)

The Washigton Post

It is 10:05 a.m., and Sister Barbara Smickel is shoulder-deep in curds and whey. She is in the cheese barn at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Crozet, Va., located about 14 miles west of Charlottesville and down a winding gravel lane. The monastery is a plain yet well-kept brick building perched atop a grassy hillside. The red-and-white cheese barn sits just down the hill; rolling pastures of farmland visible from its small windows.

Read more… Blessed are the Cheesemakers



  • Nuns devote themselves to worship, work and cheese

Richmond Times Dispatch

“It is a calling from God to a person,” said Sister Barbara, who handles much of the external communications for the monastery. “But how the person discerns that and what is the first thing that turns them in that direction varies so much.”

No matter how they got here, the nuns share a deep commitment to their faith and to one another.

“We consider it like marriage,” said Sister Barbara. “Something sacred. Not to be taken lightly without adequate thought and prayer and experience.”

Their days are rigidly scheduled, with time for prayer, work and communal gatherings. They don’t take a vow of silence, though they do abide “an observance of silence,” Sister Barbara said, so as not to forget their reason for being at the monastery, which is to “praise God, to love God and to serve God.

Read more…  Nuns devote themselves to worship, work and cheese