Inburgering with 10 Dutch cheeses you ought to try

Agrarian products are a major export. Photo:
Cheese at a farmers market. Photo:

The lockdown may be over but we are continuing our very own inburgering course over the summer.

Lesson 16: Cheese

There is more to Dutch cheese than the plastic versions of Gouda and Edam you tend to find in foreign supermarkets. Here are some of our favourites.

Dutch cheese, by the way, is either jong (young, 4 weeks),  jong-belegen (young-mature 8-10 weeks), belegen (mature, 16-18 weeks), extra belegen (extra mature, 7-8 months), oud (old, 10-12 months) or overjarig (very old, more than 18 months). 

Leidse kaas. Cheese with cumin seeds to give it flavour.

Nagelkaas. Photo: AlexanderVanLoon via Wikimedia Commons

Friese nagelkaas. Cheese with cloves and cumin seeds. An acquired taste for some and a tried-it-once-never-again experience for others.

Bleu de Wolvega. Organic French-style blue cheese from Friesland. Very tasty.

Zeekraalkaas. Organic sheep’s milk cheese with samphire, made on the island of  Terschelling.

Goudse kaas, old. Crumbly, salty, pungent with overtones of sick. Don’t let this put you off – just hold your nose and eat this delicious cheese on a piece of roggebrood or rye bread.

Different ages of cheese. Photo:

Geska Glarus. Not a Dutch cheese but such a pervasive presence on Dutch tables since time immemorial that it deserves a place in this list. It’s stinky, powdered Swiss cheese in a little cardboard pot which tastes like shredded cardboard.

Rommedoe. Roum is the Limburg dialect word for cream and doe is derived from the French doux, or soft. A hold-your-nose Limburg cheese which is no longer made in Limburg because of Dutch regulations, but pop over the border to Belgium and you’ll find it under the name Hervekaas. It’s production goes back to the 15th century. Sharp, pungent and stinky. Don’t take it on any form of public transport.

Edammer kaas. Small, round cheese whose production goes back to the 17th century and one of the best-known Dutch cheeses in the world. It was known as a klootkaasjes or ball (as in gonads) cheese.

Sheep cheese maturing. Photo: Emil76 via Wikimedia Commons

Texelse schapenkaas. This cheese was made in the 16th and 17th centuries on the island of Texel. One of the more surprising ingredients was the juice of boiled sheep’s poo which gave it is characteristic colour (green) and taste (sharp). It also helped keep the cheese. This practice was discontinued in the 1930s but you can still buy the poo-less variety.

Limburger. Beloved of comedians for its pungent smell – often compared to body odour – Limburger cheese was made in the 19th century in the Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided between the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Nowadays, it’s mainly made in Germany. They are welcome to it.

Note: Some Dutch cheeses have brand names, like Leerdammer, Maasdammer or Old Amsterdam. They have nothing to do with either Leerdam, Maasdam or Amsterdam and have been given a brand new tradition by cheesy marketing men. The Edam and Gouda in foreign supermarkets, on the other hand, has nothing to do with cheese.

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