All Cheese Considered: Boorenkaas
Publication: Gourmet Retailer Date: Saturday, June 1 2002
The importance of cheese to the economy of the Netherlands cannot be overstated. Holland was not only the first country to export cheese, they are still the world's largest cheese exporter, The importance of cheese to the economy of the Netherlands cannot be overstated. Holland was not only the first country to export cheese, they are still the world's largest cheese exporter, sending their products to every corner of the globe, often over the same routes upon which they first brought tea .
The two most famous Dutch cheeses, Gouda and Edam, are named for the towns in which they were first traded, and indeed, many of the great cheese-weighing houses of the 17th and 18th centuries, or kaaswaag, are still in use today. While most of the current cheese production in Holland is highly mechanized, turning out tons of good, consistent, although unexciting examples of these once very distinctive cheeses, there remains a tradition of farmhouse cheeses, made by hand on small family farms from the unpasteurized milk of the farmers' own herds. Boorenkaas, or "farmer's cheese," is essentially a traditionally made, raw-milk Gouda, whose flavor harks back to centuries past. Made in wheels weighing anywhere from 10 to 200 pounds, Boorenkaas is aged for a minimum of three months, and can be aged further for up to three years. At that point, it takes on a Parmesan-like character with endless depth of flavor. Aged Boorenkaas has a sweet, nutty flavor and a distinctive tang that results from the use of raw milk. Boorenkaas is made only from May to October, when the cows are allowed to graze in the lush green fields that are further enhanced by low-lying peat bogs. When young, Boorenkaas is an excellent slicing and melting cheese, and is great for snacking. The more mature the cheese, the more pronounced the flavor, and when fully aged, it becomes a perfect grating cheese.