Range of varieties and flavours

There are many varieties of Dutch cheese of which the best known are Gouda and Edam, but each of these has several variations.

Through the ages farmers have brought their cheeses to Gouda, a Dutch countrytown, just southeast of the Hague. Each week during the summer, a historical cheese market is held in front of the old Weight-house dating from 1668. Gouda cheese derives its name from this historical town. About 60% of the entire Dutch cheese production is devoted to Gouda and its varieties. Traditionally, Gouda cheese is wheel-shaped, but is also produced in squares and blocks. Gouda is a cheese with a fat content in the dry matter of 48%. It has a mild and creamy flavour but as the cheese matures, its character changes and acquires a more robust flavour and firmer texture. The weight varies between 4 kg and 20 kg. A `Baby Gouda Cheese' or `lunch cheese' is also available. In addition to young Gouda a low-salt Gouda is also produced. Steadily gaining in popularity are the varieties: Gouda with herbs, Gouda with Cumin seed. Farmhouse Gouda is produced in both young and mature versions.

The little town of Edam, in the Dutch province of North Holland, used to be the centre of Dutch cheese exports. Nowadays Edam cheese is produced all over The Netherlands. Its round shape and red colour are very distinctive. Edam's red appearance is obtained by dipping or spraying with wax which at the same time gives the cheese a protective coating.

The usual weight of Edam is approximately 2 kg. The cheese has a fat content of 40% in the dry matter, as it is made from skimmed milk. Edam is also available in 1 kg size known as a `Baby Edam'. This cheese is also produced with cumin seeds giving it a spicy and aromatic flavour, and has an orange wax coating. Green waxed Edam denotes garden herbs. They are both available in 2 kg and 1 kg balls.

The taste of Edam cheese differs according to its age, although the Edam cheese most widely available is sold when approximately 6 weeks old and is well-known and appreciated for its mild flavour and smooth texture. However, when Edam `ages' or matures its flavour becomes more robust and is easy to distinguish from the younger Gouda as it is blaack-waxed.

Leyden cheese originates from the area around the city of Leyden. It is also made from skimmed milk and is spiced with cumin seeds. Leyden is wheel shaped with round angled sides. Factory made Leyden cheese usually has a higher fat content (40% in the dry matter) than the Farmhouse version (20% in the dry matter). As this cheese is matured for several months, it has a strong flavour of cumin. Leyden is available in 8 kg and is often red waxed.