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Edam Cheese is a semi-hard, pale yellow Dutch cheese with a mildly-tangy and slightly salty taste. Traditionally the cheese is made in a ball shape, but you may also spot it in squat rounds, or a loaf shape. It is a commercial cheese made in cheese factories.
As of December 2010, there are now officially two types of Edam cheese. There is the generic Edam-style cheese, which can be made anywhere in the world, and a protected name type which must be made only in the Netherlands following strict guidelines. The generic Edam-style cheese is just known as “Edam Cheese.”
Edam is made with partially-skimmed pasteurized cow’s milk. The milk is heated to 86 degrees F (30 C), and bacteria is added. Then, rennet is added to create curd. The curds are cut into small pieces, heated to 104 F (40 C), then drained of the whey, moulded and pressed into small balls or wheels and salted. It is let ripen at 50 F (10 C.)
Baby Edams, generally under 2 1/2 pounds (1 kg) in weight, are meant to be eaten young, within weeks of being produced. When young, the cheese has a very supple texture, with a very mild, slightly nutty taste.
Some Edams, though, especially larger ones, are aged to let them develop a more complex flavour. Aged ones will be drier, and saltier tasting.
© Denzil Green
Edam that is exported outside the Netherlands is covered with a shiny red wax coating. Occasionally, you may see a yellow wax. The wax originally helped preserve the cheese by preventing surface mould from developing: it still serves this purpose, though now, it has an additional, thoroughly-modern purpose — to help market the cheese by giving it a distinctive look on the cheese counter.
In the Netherlands, Edam is sold without a wax coating. During high tourist season, though, you may spot it coated in wax for tourists to take home with them more easily.
Outside the Netherlands, there can be different wax colours to indicate different properties:
- Black wax: aged for at least 17 weeks;
- Green wax: herb flavoured;
- Brown wax: peppercorn-flavoured;
- Orange wax: cumin-flavoured.
You can also get vegetarian and lower-fat versions of Edam.
A large producer of Edam is the Frico Cheese company in Marum, Netherlands.
Traditionally, the cheese was made in the town of Edam, a few miles / kilometres north of Amsterdam. Now, Edam is made all over the Netherlands, and indeed all over the world — there are no geographical restrictions. The name is taken to indicate a style of cheese, rather than place of origin. That being said, there is now a special, protected grade of Edam called “Edam Holland.”
Edam Holland Cheese
In December 2010, the European Union granted PGI status (Protected Geographic Indication) to the term “Edam Holland.”
Cheese marked “Edam Holland” must be made in the Netherlands. The cheese will have an indicator stamped on the wax saying “Edam Holland”, and assigning each cheese a unique number.
“Edam Holland” cheese must be made with cow’s milk curdled with calf rennet. The milk must not be pasteurized, though it may be thermalized.
After curdling, the whey is drained away, then the curds are washed and formed into the desired cheese shapes. The cheeses are then immersed in brine for a short time, then set out to age and develop a rind, during which time it is turned frequently. It will be aged for anywhere from 28 days up to a year. Baby “Edam Holland” cheeses are aged at least 21 days. The rind must have no mould on it. The cheese cannot be wrapped in foil.
Remove and discard any wax coating from pieces you use.
Edam shreds and slices easily. Melts well when cooked.
Well-aged ones can be grated.
Gouda or fontina or a mild cheddar
In the Netherlands, Edam is generally about 40% fat. That being said, the fat content will vary based on who made it, where in the world.
Per 100g of Edam: calories 333, fat 25.4g (15.9g saturates), calcium 770mg
Nutrition FactsPer 30 g (1 oz)AmountCalories101Fat7.9 gProtein7.1 gCalcium207 mg
Store wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. Keep wax coating on unused surfaces.
Like most cheese, Edam can be frozen. Cut into 1/2 pound (225 g) chunks, and wrap air-tight.
When thawed, it is best for cooking.
Originally, Edam was an aged farmhouse cheese, with a stronger flavour.
It acquired the name of Edam because the cheese was made in and around that port city, and exported through that port.
Originally, the outsides of the cheeses were brushed with poppy juice.
COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1121/2010 of 2 December 2010. Entering a designation in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications [Edam Holland (PGI)]. Official Journal of the European European. 317/14 – 21.
Cloake, Felicity. Edam recipes. BBC Food. Retrieved July 2011 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/edam.