Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rose Boero in Central Wisconsin

Rose with her daughter, Margaret
Becoming a licensed cheese maker in Wisconsin is a very big deal!

Rose Boero, age 60, is a newly licensed cheese maker.  It's been a long journey for her.

Getting licensed in Wisconsin involves taking courses, passing an exam and, with the option she chose, completing over 240 hours of apprenticeship.

That's especially hard when you decide to do it at age 56 while still maintaining a herd of goats and working outside the home to pay the hay and grain bill.!

Rose told us: 
There are other routes to get your license but they include several years of working in a cheese plant. For those of us who have other jobs - this shorter method is preferred, especially if our equipment is not as large as that used in the big cheese plants.

Finding the apprenticeship is probably the most difficult part of the program. In order for me to find an apprenticeship I found a plant that would allow me to buy my own small pasteurizer, have it installed in their plant, and learn how to make my own small patch cheeses there with my own equipment.

The 240 hours were divided into 3 parts. First I learned how they made cheese in their large equipment, then I learned how to use my own machine and had the machine inspected and approved by the state-- a step that took over a year because Wisconsin's inspector required the manufacturer to modify the machine to meet new specifications. (Very frustrating since the machine was accepted "as is" by all the other states.)

The third step was learning to make cheese start to finish which also includes what happens to the cheese after it comes out of the press- the drying, painting, waxing, packaging, labeling etc... etc... etc... THIS is as much a part of cheese making as the actual process of curds and whey. The whole character of the product changes depending on whether the cheese is exposed to the air for formation of the rind, or whether it is sealed in plastic, brined. salt-bathed or waxed - and then for how long and at what temperature and humidity it is stored for aging.

Wisconsin cheese makers have recently developed many varieties of these pampered, artisan cheeses- it's not just about cheddar and cheese curds anymore!!! Although these are still an overwhelming favorite! 

Their farm in Stevens Point, at the center of Wisconsin - Tea-Rose Toggs.

Rose was born in Kimberly, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point) for a few years, then decided to get her LPN license. She took time off from nursing while she and her husband Joe brought up their children, daughter Margaret and son John (who both live in the Milwaukee area now).

For the last 10 years she returned to nursing to support her growing goat herd and her efforts to obtain her cheese maker's license. Tea-Rose Toggenburgs has bred purebred Toggenburgs for 25 years. Recently, they have experimented with a Togg/ Alpine cross because Rose's cousins wanted to add Alpines to their commercial herd in Appleton Wisconsin.   But plans are to return to purebred Togg breeding, since they remain the all time favorites.

Toggenburgs, the first animal of any breed to be registered and pedigreed.

Rose with 2 visitors to the farm- GeeVee and Tessa.  (Rose told us she loves watching the faces of children when they discover where their food comes from.)

Rose knew all about making her own cheese at home, but she wanted the challenge of selling her own cheese. This would involve completing the licensing requirements, which can be very expensive and time consuming.

Bowling ball cheese press she started making cheese with 25 years ago and is now selling (  It is a simple, inexpensive press for the home and hobby cheese maker. 

A washed-curd, gouda style cheese.  After pressing, this cheese was brined in salt water for 24-36 hours, then set in this draining dish to dry the rind.  Dried green peppers were added to the curd before pressing.

Fortunately, in 2011, she was awarded a $2500 scholarship from Wisconsin Cheese Originals, funded through membership fees and event proceeds.  That helped her to afford the many hours of apprenticeship training, which she did at Willow Creek Cheese in Berlin, Wisconsin (owned by Union Star Cheese in Fremont).  It also helped her purchase a small pasteurizer and cheese vat.

Rose's 15 gallon pasteurizer

Franz, the cheese maker at Willow Creek

Part of Rose's goal is to teach the younger generations where their food comes from because  "More than a few kids think that milk comes out of a box and you mix it with water!!!"

She has started a monthly cheese maker's class at her farm in Stevens Point because there seems to be a number of these opportunities in the Madison area but not much for people in the center of the state.

She is limiting the class size to 10 for now. The first class focused on Fromage Blanc and a pressed cheese. The class includes a cheese tasting and also a video tour of artisan cheese producers in Wisconsin.

First cheese class September 5, 2012

So, now, Rose is finally a licensed cheese maker.  Beginning November 1st, she will be making her own cheese and yogurt at Willow Creek.  She will also produce custom cheeses for small local dairies.  Her new label is ready to go and we wish her the very best.

Label designed by Deb Neu at One Plus One Designs

 For more information about Rose's classes and press, contact her at


Patti Monk said...

I had the good fortune of taking Rose's cheesemaking class this summer, while on vacation in Wisconsin. I now have an appreciation for the process of making cheese, and can't wait to make some. I came away with the kit and equipment to make my own cheese in my kitchen. Rose is an excellent and patient teacher, well versed in the process. I also learned about and tasted some new and different artisan cheeses, and will look for them in the grocery stores. This was a great opportunity and I highly recommend it.

Jeri said...

Thanks, Patti. We're big fans of Rose, so it's nice to get feedback from her classes. Happy cheese making!