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: Latana Cheese

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Cheese making and tasting


Know your Cheese Maker:



The world-wide swing to healthier lifestyles is gathering momentum in the Klein Karoo where inventive entrepreneurs, some in retirement, are producing the most amazing hand-crafted foods. Healthy living starts with what you consume and this is where teacher turned computer expert and now master cheese maker, Dean Lategan, and his wife, Petra, are leading exponents.


They have returned to Dean’s family farm, Latana, in the rolling foothills of the mighty Swartberg mountain range outside Oudtshoorn, to make the most amazing natural cheeses and yogurt from milk produced by his brother, Juan’s fine Jersey herd.

“It’s what you put in that determines what you get out. Unadulterated full cream Jersey milk has a beautiful taste and is very high in butterfat, ideal for cheese making,” said Dean in an interview.


It was after Petra first contracted cancer that the couple decided on a dramatic change in lifestyle. He retired in 2011 and they returned to the Klein Karoo. Once in remission, Petra expressed an interest in cheese making and the couple attended a cheese making course at the Agricultural Research Council in Irene. They were setting up their cheese factory on the farm when Petra was again diagnosed with cancer. Once again in remission, work on the cheese factory continued and production was in full swing when they realised they had no market.


“I prayed alone one night asking for guidance. The next morning Petra suggested out of the blue that we write to all the B&Bs and hotels around Oudtshoorn offering our cheeses,” said Dean.


“We wrote 120 letters, had six positive replies and eventually four ended up buying all we could produce at that time. If all six had ordered, we would have been in trouble. God knew what we could handle when I asked.”


Since then they have extended their range of cheeses that includes their signature Boerenkaas – meaning literally a traditional Dutch full cream cheese made on a farm. It is soft with a gentle tang associated with cheese that has been aged. It is delicious plain or also available with herbs and pepper. It is noteworthy that Latana cheeses do not have the bitter aftertaste often associated with mass-produced commercial cheese. Other products are feta, mozzarella and an unusual halloumi “braai cheese” that is just a nice dipped in bread crumbs and fried in a pan. Another winner is Latana yogurt balls in virgin olive oil from the well-known De Rustica olive farm outside Oudtshoorn.


“All our products are completely natural with all the goodness – including cancer fighting properties – associated with whole milk. We use no artificial ingredients or colourants whatsoever,” said Dean.


The cheese factory is now self sustaining thanks largely to the inventiveness of the two Lategan brothers in designing and building their new dairy. Dean’s cheese factory adjoins the dairy and he designed all the stainless steel equipment used to produce cheese, feta and yogurt.


“I could have designed everything to be automatic, but that would have defeated the purpose of making cheese literally by hand. It would have taken away the fun and challenge of making cheese,” he said.


Latana cheese are available from the farm or from Dean and Petra at the fortnightly Jamstreet Farm market just outside Oudtshoorn.




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Latana Cheese


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