Maasdam is a traditional, semi-hard Dutch cheese made from cow's milk. The most characteristic feature is its 'eyes' (holes) that make up most of the cheese. The cheese was created in the early 1990s as an alternative to more expensive Swiss Emmental cheese. It is a high-fat cheese with a minimum of 45% fat. Although similar to Emmental, the moisture content in Maasdam is more, making it suppler. Nearly 15% of Dutch cheese production is made up of Maasdam.
It ripens faster than other Dutch cheeses, being ready in four to 12 weeks. The outside shell of the cheese has a smooth, yellow rind. Sometimes, the rind is waxed like Gouda. Inside the pate is a semi-firm, pale yellow with big eyes. It has a creamy texture and a sweet, buttery, nutty taste with a fruity background. If eaten young, it tastes delectable with a sandwich or as a snack. Satiate your taste buds by melting the cheese on casseroles, soups or fondues.
Maasdam cheese has all of the traits of Leerdammer cheese except for the brand name, which resides exclusively with Le Groupe Bel. It pairs well with White Zinfandel, Lager, Pale Ale, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chianti.