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The history of Edam Cheese

From the 14th until the 18th century, Edam cheese was the most popular cheese in the world especially at sea and in the colonies far away. Because of the fact that the Edam cheese could mature very well and could become very old, it was easy to bring it along to eat while travelling.

Some people said that the Edam cheese became even more popular in a time that ships used these cheeses as bullets for their cannons. True or not, it is a fact that the Edam cheese is very strong, big and round and has the same shape as a bullet. Edam cheese thanks its name to the harbour where the cheese was sold most (harbour of Edam).

The Edam cheese of today is not the same cheese as the one which our great grand parents used to know. Since the 19th century it is no longer made from full milk but made from partly skimmed milk. The fat percentage of the Edam cheese is lower (40%) than the fat percentage of the Gouda cheese (48%). Also, the real farmer’s Edam cheese with a nice strong flavour disappeared and was replaced by a softer factory made Edam cheese.

Edam cheese is mostly sold as a 1.7 kg. cheese but it also exists in a smaller size. The smaller Edam cheese is also called ‘baby Edam’ cheese. There even is a double sized Edam cheese, coloured with carotene and especially meant for export. This double sized Edam cheese was very popular with the sailors in the north of France. Nowadays the French make their own double sized Edam cheese and call it ‘Mimolette’.

The Edam cheese sold in the Netherlands is rarely coated with a paraffin wax coating except during the tourist high season, this does not include the export cheeses. The export cheeses have to be extra protected during their journey and it is easier to recognise them in foreign shops when they have a bright red or orange colour. Outside the Netherlands sometimes you will see the Edam cheese with a black paraffin coating, these cheese have been matured for at least 17 weeks.

Most of the Edam cheeses are sold way to young. A Young Edam cheese tastes very soft, a bit sweet and has a nutty flavour. When the cheese gets older then it will have the nice strong flavour. A ripe Edam cheese tastes dryer and saltier than a Gouda cheese. When Edam cheese is old it is a perfect cheese for grating. In the earlier days the Edam cheese was made in special wooden cheese forms. These forms also where used as helmets during a riot. Thanks to this fact the Dutch population became the name ‘cheese-heads’.



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