Spring is bustin’ out all over and the barn doors of Beemster Farms are opening to the lush untouched spring pastures for the first time after the cold and windy winter. The grasses of the Beemster Polder, situated 20 feet below sea level, have grown long and thick over the cold months and are now ideal for grazing. The cows eagerly gobble up this sweet new grass and produce milk that is is the most coveted of the year. The lush young grasses give their milk a special creamy flavor and texture and is used to produce the limited edition Beemster Graskaas.
Beemster is an artisan Dutch cheese, a North Holland Dutch Gouda that is crafted exclusively in the Beemster Polder (a polder is a low tract of land enclosed by embankments with no connection to outside water sources). The cows graze only on pesticide-free pastures that contain rare blue sea clay. This clay contains minerals that give the milk a sweeter and softer milkfat, giving Beemster cheeses a softer and creamier texture than other Dutch cheeses. The name is trademarked: Beemster can only be made in the Beemster Polder. The farm is a co-op which was set up so that the farmers’ wives would no longer have to make the cheese on their individual farms. Over the years, this small co-op stood by its original recipe, fine tuning where improvements could be made.
The cheeses in Beemster’s line varies from The Classic, which is semi-hard with a salty-sweet flavor, to the X O, which is hard and crumbly, with the complex flavor of caramel and butter. The Graskaas has a flavor and texture all its own. Because it is made with the sweet grassy milk of the first grazing, the flavor is similar to a young swiss with a smooth soft texture.
As for the Graskaas’ overall taste, I was left a bit underwhelmed. I found the paste a bit gummy and the flavor less grassy than I had hoped. I expected a fresher and lighter taste and the sweetness of the milk was a bit too much. Perhaps melting it in a grilled ham and cheese sandwich or pairing it with a Boujolais Nouveau wine would help enhance this prized Dutch cheese.
photo: Westborn Market