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 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!


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!


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 500gr 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 supermarket Gouda style cheeses you can find back home, will be as good, if not better than these. But yes, they make nice looking gifts!


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 much better and older cheeses at the markets and shops below.


Markets.


Albert Cuyp is famous, but for serious cheese you really need to go to Noordermarkt and Lindenmarkt to the west of the main station on Saturdays, this is where I buy cheese from!


Cheese shops.


The 3 very best in my opinion 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.


My favourite Dutch hard cheese can only be found at the special cheese shops I mentioned above, and at one stall in Noordermarkt - it’s rare, even many Dutch people don’t know about it! It’s made near Ede to the east of Utrecht from Organic, Raw Jersey milk and is called Remeker. They have 3 ages, 6, 9 and 13 months. The old one is one of the greatest hard cheeses in the world. Most importantly for me, it has a natural rind (no wax) which allows the cheese to develop more character. Ask for this at special cheese shops and you will instantly earn respect from the staff!


If you’re buying cheese for a special dinner or party, I suggest you choose 4 or 5 cheeses, the selection based on my rule of thumb “Something Old, Something New, Something Stinky, Something Blue” (Hard, Soft, Smelly, Blue). If you include a goat and or sheep cheese within this selection, you will have every possible cheese type on one board. On my cheese walks and workshops I usually include cheeses from the Netherlands, France, the UK and sometimes Switzerland, Italy or Spain. My choice varies depending upon the season and what is best at the market that day.


When visiting a cheese shop or market 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.


By the way, you cannot take raw milk cheese home to Australia or Canada, but most US states allow it as long as it is for personal consumption, not for re-sale. Check your own state or country regulations first. Of course, if the cheese is not labelled, if asked, you could swear blind that the cheese shop told you it is pasteurised!


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!


© Michael William Jones