The Amsterdam Cheese Scene


If you’re visiting Amsterdam you’ll no doubt be interested in learning about, and trying, Dutch cheese. Here’s some Cheesy tips for you! 


Popular Dutch cheese types:


Gouda. It’s a style of cheese that was traditionally only sold at the cheese market in Gouda but now made all over the country, they are firm cows milk cheeses (although sometimes made with sheep and goat) with a (usually) yellow/orange wax rind. They come in different ages.


Jong - Young, 4 - 8 weeks - mild and creamy


Belegen - Matured, 12 - 20 weeks - firmer and more flavour (Jong Belegen is 8-12 weeks, Extra Belegen 6-8 months)


Oud - Old, 10 - 14 months or more, harder and stronger and usually sweeter and stronger and sometimes with calcium lactate crunchy crystals


You’ll also sometimes see these cheeses labeled as Kaas van de Boerderij, cheese made on the farm and Boerenkaas - “Farmer” cheese, made on the farm, but more importantly, it will be made from Raw Milk (unpasteurised). Raw milk cheeses are always the best!


Over aged cheeses are popular, but in my professional opinion the extra aging kills all the subtle and complex flavours in special cheeses. 


Edam. Similar to Gouda but milder and usually made in round shapes


Leidse or more commonly known as Cumin cheese, a traditional Dutch recipe - so called because it has cumin seeds in it!


BUT, there are many other styles of cheese that are made in very small quantities on small farms. These are only found in specialist cheese shops and markets listed below and are often included in my walks and workshops - soft, fresh goats cheeses, soft washed rind (smelly) cheeses, blues made from Buffalo milk and many fabulous raw milk hard cheeses - and many of the cheese makers I know personally - they're a world apart from cheeses sold in supermarkets!


Where to buy cheese in Amsterdam.


Firstly, avoid supermarkets, cheese is cheaper elsewhere and the quality is superior. There are many Tourist cheese shops in the centre of Amsterdam, most sell baby 300 to 400gr Gouda cheeses. These are fine for travelling, especially as gifts for people who are not very adventurous with cheese (they also sell them at the airport). But honestly, they are not special cheeses, most of them are gimmicks with added flavours and colours, most supermarket Gouda style cheeses you can find back home, will be as good, if not better than these. The prices are also very high. The cheeses we buy on my tours are 10x the quality and often half the price.


You will also see a cheese called Old Amsterdam. This is a product born of marketing. It is not made in Amsterdam and it is not really old. It is a large scale production and they do various things to it to make it look and taste older, including adding colour. I know why people like it, but it is not a cheese for a connoisseur, you can find much better cheeses at the markets and shops below at lower prices. For more info about this "Fake Old Cheese", this is a great in-depth article!


Markets.


Albert Cuyp is famous, but for serious cheese you really need to go to Noordermarkt  to the west of the main station on Saturdays, this is where I buy cheese from and where I take my Saturday cheese walk groups to. Lindenmarkt is a long street market next to it, there are also some good cheeses there.


Cheese shops.


The 3 very best are Fromagerie Abraham Kef (they have 3 locations, including one with a cheese cafe) and De Kaaskamer, all 4 of these are fairly central, the other one is near Amsterdam South, L’Amuse. There are other good cheese shops in the city, mostly in residential areas that sell very good cheese to locals, but the ones I have listed sell exceptionally good cheese.


Buying Cheese


The tourist shops in the centre are the most expensive, compare prices to better quality cheeses elsewhere. At markets you can get very good Gouda style cheese from €15.00 / kg. The very best artisan raw milk farm Gouda style cheeses at the shops I visit are around €20.00 / kg. The best Dutch hard cheese, raw organic Jersey milk Remeker is around €40.00, it's one of the greatest hard cheeses in the world but very difficult to find. Some of the mass produced cheeses in the tourist shops sell for €50.00 / Kg or more. A typical wedge of 250 - 300gr of excellent Gouda cheese should cost you from €4.00 to €7.00 - Remeker Oud for around €8 - 9.00 - don't pay more!


When visiting a cheese shop or market look for a cheese counter with a range of different styles. The best cheese shops will cut cheese for you, don’t be shy, ask the cheese monger for advice (Cheese mongers love curious customers!), what is good that day, or in season. Base the strength of your selection on how adventurous your guests are and allow anything from 100 - 200gr of cheese per person.


Most cheese shops will vacuum pack cheese for you for travelling and did you know that hard cheese does not need to be refrigerated? Most of these cheeses have been matured for 6 - 18 months at 10 - 15 degrees centigrade so a few days travelling at 20 or 25 degrees will not hurt them. But best put cheeses, especially soft and blue, well wrapped, in your hold luggage for long journey’s.


If you want to learn more about enjoying special cheeses including which ones are naturally Lactose Free, you can download my 12 page booklet "An Easy Guide to Enjoying Special Cheeses" for only €1.00.  Or sign up for one of my very popular Cheese Shopping Walks. On these I will teach you what cheeses to choose and how to make the perfect cheese board. We then head to a Craft Beer Brewery or Dutch Wine bar to enjoy, and learn about the cheeses. We don't buy the usual simple cheeses, but some of the best cheeses in the world from NL, France, Switzerland, the UK and other European countries. 


And my "Perfect Cheese Board"? It's.....


Something Old

Something New

Something Stinky

Something Blue!


© Michael William Jones 2024


Michael ran his own Cheese Shop in Switzerland for 14 years. He then sold cheese in London at Borough Market and at the oldest cheese shop in the UK Paxton & Whitfield, suppliers to the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. He now lives in NL and spends his time writing and talking about serious cheese!