Types of Dutch cheese

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Holland's history of cheese making extends back to the time of Julius Caesar. Indeed, it seems the number of dairy animals in Holland may rival the number of tulip bulbs in the fields. The Dutch have integrated flowers and various types of cheese into their lives, entwining them with festivals all year round. Cheese making and cheese carrying guilds have had a solid spot in Dutch life and the Dutch economy for centuries.

Types of Dutch cheese

Most people have at least heard of Gouda and Edam cheeses, if not tasted them. These two hard, mild cheeses are named for the towns in which they were originally made and from which they were sold. But other Dutch cheese types are just as integral to Holland's healthy cheese export economy, and have some interesting differences in flavor and texture. Some of the other major types of cheeses in Holland include the following:

  • Maasdammer – this nutty cheese has large holes and a domed shape. Try a Leerdammer or a Maasdam when at the cheese shop.
  • Boerenkaas – This raw milk cheese is, by law, an artisanal cheese: at least half the milk used needs to come from the farm's cows, and the rest from no more than two other farms.
  • Goat's Cheese – Goat's cheese in Holland comes in two types: the soft, fresh cheese and a semi-hard, cured version that is much like Gouda. It's pale with a bit of a tang and a melted texture.
  • Smoked Cheese – This cheese is made, melted, smoked, and then remolded into a sausage shape. Often sold by the slice.
  • Frisian Clove Cheese – Low-fat milk, cumin, and cloves give this firm cheese a hard, dry, and tart taste.

Try cheese tasting and visit the markets

When visiting Holland, tourists are encouraged to try the cheese. Stop by the cheese markets in Alkmaar, Gouda, or Edam for a reenactment of a medieval cheese market. Take a tour of the outlying farms, some of which come with a cheese tasting. Or just stop by one of the many cheese shops and try some yourself. When visiting Amsterdam, stop at the award-winning Reypenaer Tasting Room to learn about the many cheeses the Reypenaer company makes and their histories.