When you visit a new place, it’s only natural to want to try everything that is typical of the region. Likewise, if you visit the Netherlands, you may want to try cycling in Amsterdam, going on a canal cruise, or visiting a tulip field in Keukenhof.
But is there any other quintessentially Dutch thing apart from tulips, canals, bicycles, windmills, and wooden shoes?
In the Netherlands, cheese production has been around since prehistoric times. This was proven by the discovery of clay pots dating from 800 B.C.
Now, the Netherlands is the fourth biggest cheese producer in Europe. The different types of Dutch cheese are often named after different cities in the country, such as Gouda, Edam, Leyden, Maasdam, Leerdammer, Maaslander, and of course, the Old Amsterdam.
Some of these names have earned the Protected Geographical Status under the European Community laws, which means that only the cheese produced in the region is permitted to use the name.
Popular Types of Dutch Cheese
Gouda – A mild-flavored yellow cheese made from cow’s milk. When aged, it develops a caramel sweetness with a slight crunchiness from cheese crystals.
Leyden – A semi-hard cow’s milk cheese flavored with cumin and caraway seeds.
Leerdammer – A semi-hard cow’s milk cheese with a creamy white texture, distinct holes, and a sweet and somewhat nutty flavor.
Old Amsterdam – A premium aged Gouda with a firm texture, deep color, and a rich and robust flavor.
Edam – A semi-hard cheese with a pale yellow interior and a rind of red paraffin wax. Does not spoil but only hardens with time. Has a milky and buttery taste, and almost no smell.
Maasdam – A cow’s milk cheese with a smooth yellow rind and internal voids (holes) from the ripening process. Has a nutty and sweet flavor.
Hollandse Geitenkaas – A semi-hard white cheese made using pasteurized cream or goat’s milk. Has a soft, mild, and clean taste.
Beemster Classic – Another aged version of Gouda, this semi-hard cheese features a smooth and creamy texture, a strong aroma, and a salty, sharp flavor with a sweet finish.
You can learn about these cheeses and more at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. And best of all, you also get to taste them, for free!
Amsterdam Cheese Museum
I’m a big fan of food-tasting experiences when traveling abroad, especially if they’re free.
So, when I first heard about this cheese museum in Amsterdam, I knew I had to include it in my itinerary. Cheese is one of my favorite delicacies. I love trying all the different kinds — yes, even the stinky ones. As they say, cheese can make any food taste better.
Unfortunately, it is an expensive commodity in my country and there isn’t much variety available. We usually have to make do with overpriced cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan (if we’re lucky). Therefore, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum was a godsend to me.
Founded by a team of young entrepreneurs, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum is dedicated exclusively to Dutch cheese.
On the ground floor is a cheese shop, where you’ll be presented with more cheese than you’ve ever seen in one room. You’d be surprised to know that even Gouda cheese alone comes in many different varieties and infusions — from pineapple bits to garlic to pesto. Whether you like sweet or savory, you’ll definitely find something that tickles your fancy.
Next to each one of them are small bowls containing toothpicks and tiny cubes of cheese for you to sample. This is where you can go a little crazy trying every different type and deciding which one you like best (it’s impossible to pick only one).
After you have stuffed yourself silly, you can make your way downstairs to the basement, where the actual museum is.
There, you’ll get to learn about the history of cheese-making in the Netherlands through videos, pictures, replicas, and written texts. Check out the most expensive cheese slicer in the world, and have fun at the photo corner where you can dress up like a traditional Dutch cheese farmer.
Apparently, the employees also give guided tours of the museum upon request, but the store was quite busy during my visit, so I didn’t want to bother them.
Is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum worth visiting?
According to other blog articles that I read, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum is not the only cheese museum in the Netherlands. There’s a bigger, more impressive one in Alkmaar, which also provides guided tours as well as family-friendly scavenger hunts. A tour of the Alkmaar Cheese Museum can usually be combined with a visit to the cheese market and the cheese farm.
However, Alkmaar is 43 kilometres away from the capital, so for those of you who are short on time or simply don’t feel like making the 40-minute journey, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum is a great alternative.
You still get to learn about cheese-making and sample the different types of cheese for free. If you’re a foodie, I’d say this is a must-visit place in Amsterdam. And even if you’re not, could you really say no to free cheese?
The great news is that all the cheese on offer at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum are vacuum-packed and ready for traveling all around the world. They also ship their products worldwide, so if you don’t want to carry your purchase with you on the plane, or if you’re not in Amsterdam right now, you can easily order them online!
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 21:00 daily
Entrance Fee: FREE!
How to Get There:
- Walking: Across the canal from the Anne Frank House (5 minutes’ walk).
- By public transports: From the Central Station, take tram 13, 17, or bus no. 21, 170, 171 to Westermarkt stop.
- By car: From the Amsterdam ring A10, exit on S105 and continue driving until you reach Bloemgracht.
Have you visited any ‘edible museum’ before? Or have you heard of any? If yes, please share in the comment section below. I’d love to have more food experiences abroad!