What is Edam Cheese?

Edam cheese is a semi-hard Dutch cheese made from cow's milk. It originated in the town of Edam in the Netherlands.

What is Edam Cheese

Edam has a distinctive spherical shape and a wax coating, usually dyed red or yellow. The interior is pale yellow with a mild, nutty flavor when young. As Edam ages, it becomes firmer and the flavor intensifies and sharpens.

Edam is a versatile and widely popular cheese due to its mild taste and good melting properties. It is eaten on its own, used in cooked dishes, and served in sandwiches and salads.

History and Origins

Edam cheese traces its roots to the Dutch town of Edam in North Holland. Cheesemaking in this region dates back centuries, but Edam emerged as a distinct variety in the 14th century.

Originally, Edam cheeses did not have the wax rind. This was introduced later as a way to protect the cheese during transport and extend shelf life. The wax coating enabled Edam to be widely exported and become popular internationally.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Edam was the world's most popular cheese. It became known as "the world's cheese" due to its ubiquity in global trade and cuisine at the time. Edam's rise coincided with the Dutch Golden Age, when the Netherlands was a major maritime power.

The round shape and red wax coating remain the defining features of Edam today. These characteristics distinguish it from other cheeses, even as production has spread globally beyond Holland.

Making Edam Cheese

Edam is made from pasteurized cow's milk. The milk is curdled using rennet, an enzyme that causes the milk proteins to coagulate.

The curds are cut up and whey is drained off, concentrating the curds which will form the cheese. The curd pieces are pressed into molds, usually spherical, to give Edam its distinctive shape.

The cheeses are brined briefly in a salt solution. This adds flavor and helps prevent bacterial growth. After brining, the cheeses are coated in wax.

Edam typically ages for 4-10 weeks before it is ready to eat. During the aging process, enzymes in the cheese break down proteins and fats, intensifying Edam's nutty flavor. The cheese firms up through loss of moisture.

The red or yellow wax coating helps protect the cheese as it ages. It also became part of Edam's identity. Originally, the wax was reddened with vermilion to distinguish Edam from other cheeses.

Flavor and Texture

The flavor and texture of Edam cheese depends on its age.

Young Edam, aged for just a few weeks, has a very mild, subtle flavor. It tastes mildly nutty and salty, with a hint of sweetness. The texture is supple, smooth, and slightly springy.

As Edam ages over several months, its flavor develops more sharpness and bite. The nutty notes become stronger and are balanced by a tangy taste. The texture firms up but remains smooth.

Well-aged Edam can be aged for up to a year. It becomes harder in texture and has a robust, full flavor. The tangy, salty taste is punctuated by nutty, caramel notes. Aged Edam has a distinctive crumbly texture.

The smooth, mild taste of young Edam makes it popular for children and for those new to cheese. Aged Edam provides more complexity for cheese connoisseurs.

Uses in Cooking and Eating

Edam is a versatile cheese used in many dishes and preparations. Here are some of the most popular ways to eat Edam:

  • Sliced or cubed on sandwiches
  • Melted on pizza, pasta, potatoes, casseroles
  • In salads or salad dressings
  • On cheese boards and platters
  • In fondues or raclettes
  • Breaded and fried, like mozzarella sticks
  • Baked into tarts or savory pies

Edam's subtle flavor pairs well with fruits like apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and grapes. The cheese beautifully complements fresh bread.

Edam melts beautifully, so it can be incorporated into hot dishes without becoming greasy. Its mild taste lets other ingredients shine through when melted.

For wine pairings, medium-bodied whites like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc work well. Light reds like Beaujolais or pinot noir also complement Edam's nutty notes.

Health Benefits

Like all cheeses, Edam provides protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Here are some of the notable health benefits of Edam cheese:

  • High in calcium, helping strengthen bones and teeth
  • Contains protein for building muscle, collagen, and enzymes
  • Source of phosphorus which supports bone mineralization
  • Provides vitamin B12 which aids red blood cell formation
  • Rich in vitamin K2 which may improve heart health
  • Contains probiotics that support healthy gut flora

As with any food, moderation is key. Eaten in sensible amounts as part of a balanced diet, Edam can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Those with lactose intolerance may need to avoid Edam due to its dairy content.

Where is Edam Cheese Made?

While Edam originated in Holland, today it is produced worldwide. However, to bear the name "Edam", cheese must follow certain standards:

  • Made from pasteurized cow's milk
  • Formed into spheres
  • Aged for at least 3 weeks
  • Coated in red paraffin wax

The Netherlands remains the top producer of Edam. Dutch Edam, particularly the Bola and Baby Bola varieties, is considered the finest quality.

Other major producers include France, the USA, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. Each imparts local twists, like smoked Edam in Germany and spiced Edam in Belgium. But the basic method follows the Dutch original.

Pre-sliced Edam is commonly sold in America while Europe favors whole Edam balls. Globally, yellow wax is now more common than red.

Buying and Storing Edam

When purchasing Edam, inspect the wax rind for defects or cracks that could compromise the interior cheese. Avoid any cheeses with dried, cracked, or moldy wax.

For mild flavor, choose younger Edam aged 1-2 months. For more robust taste, pick an older Edam aged 3+ months.

Uncut Edam keeps for 1-2 months refrigerated. Cut wedges should be tightly wrapped to minimize drying out. Allow cut Edam to warm to room temperature before serving for best flavor and texture.

Freeze Edam for up to 6 months by wrapping wheels or wedges airtight in plastic wrap and foil. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Key Takeaway: Edam is a Dutch cheese recognized by its spherical shape and wax rind. Its mild, nutty flavor makes it versatile for cooking, snacking, and cheese boards.


What does Edam cheese taste like?

Young Edam has a very mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Aged Edam develops more tangy and salty flavors with a hint of caramel.

What is the difference between Edam and Gouda?

Gouda is similar to Edam but tends to be sweeter and softer in texture. Edam is drier, firmer, and has a more pronounced salty taste.

Can you eat Edam cheese rind?

Yes, the wax rind is edible but has little flavor. Most people remove it before eating the cheese.

Is Edam cheese good for you?

In moderation, Edam provides protein, calcium, probiotics, and other nutrients. However, it is high in saturated fat and sodium.

Is Edam lactose free?

No, Edam is not lactose free. Lactose intolerant individuals need to avoid eating Edam.

Can you melt Edam cheese?

Yes, Edam melts very smoothly due to its semi-soft texture. It makes an excellent melting cheese.

Is Edam cheese Dutch?

Yes, Edam originated in the town of Edam in the northern Netherlands. It's considered a traditional Dutch cheese.

What wine goes with Edam cheese?

Dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay pair well with Edam. Medium-bodied reds like Pinot Noir also complement it nicely.


Edam has been a cheesemaking tradition for centuries, but it remains widely popular today. Its distinctive look and taste make it a consumer favorite around the world.

The smooth, supple texture and mild flavor profile give Edam broad appeal. At the same time, aging develops more complex tastes for cheese lovers.

In cooking, Edam shines because it melts smoothly without separating. Its subtle flavor allows other ingredients to take center stage when melted.

On cheese trays, Edam provides a nice counterpoint to bold, sharp cheeses. Its nutty sweetness balances out stronger flavors.

So for a versatile cheese that makes for excellent snacking, cooking, and eating, it's hard to go wrong with the classic Edam. Whether young and mild or aged for full flavor, Edam offers a satisfying taste and nutrition.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions