Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about one of our products or about something else? Below we have collected all the questions to serve you as well as possible. Is your question not listed? Then please contact us.

Meanings and abbreviations

CONO Cheesemakers' assurance system means that the quality of the milk throughout the chain (from milk extraction on the farm) is good and controlled according to certain procedures.

This acronym stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, an international preventive approach to food safety. The HACCP program is based on seven principles that ensure food safety. Beemster meets all of these requirements, and thus is HACCP certified.

That's the Central Organ for Quality Matters in Dairy. The COKZ is a government body charged with supervising the dairy industry. The COKZ thus provides assurance about the safety and quality of dairy products produced in the Netherlands. CONO Kaasmakers complies with the conditions of the COKZ.

This means that our cheese is made from the milk coming from dairy farmers where the cows graze at least 120 days a year from spring to fall, at least 6 hours a day in the pasture. This standard has been established by Stichting Weidegang. Stichting Weidegang monitors all parties that carry the meadow milk logo.

The EKO Label stands for everything organic. So no dyes, cows eating only organic and no preservatives. This only applies to our Organic Beemster cheese. The flow label of the whole cheese (wheel) as we use it has the EKO Hallmark.

The Beemster Organic a true organic cheese. The term Organic or EKO is a protected designation which may only be used if the specific requirements are met. Beemster is controlled by SKAL. Our Beemster organic cheese is not vegetarian, it contains animal rennet. The rennet comes from the stomachs of calves. There are also EKO cheeses, which are made with non-animal rennet. However, we do not make these.

Save

In a sealed plastic box or greaseproof cheese paper in the refrigerator. The flavor of cheese comes out best when it is removed from the refrigerator half an hour before eating.

If you have kept the cheese in a sealed container, foil or greaseproof cheese paper, you can use it for up to four weeks. Did a small spot of mold develop at your house during that time anyway? Not to worry. You can simply cut this off the cheese. The rest is still perfectly edible. Do wrap your Beemster cheese in new greaseproof cheese paper or a clean box afterwards. Also wash the knife before cutting into the cheese.

Beemster cheese can be stored in any plastic box that can be sealed airtight.

Cheese can become dry if not stored properly covered. The moisture will pull out of the cheese, especially if you store it at high temperatures.

If you store Beemster cheese unsealed, and/or not in the refrigerator, a small mold spot may develop on the cheese. You can simply cut this away. The rest of the cheese is as tasty as ever. Just be sure to wash off the knife before cutting into the cheese again, and wrap the cheese in new greaseproof cheese paper or a clean box.
Beemster cheese performs continuous checks at all stages of the production process to prevent errors. Did you still buy a piece of cheese with mold on it? If so, please contact us so we can refund the purchase price to you.

Health

The number 48+ means that there is 48 percent fat in the dry matter (that is, without the ingredient water) of the cheese. In absolute terms (with water), the fat content of 48+ cheese is about 32 percent. Of 35+ cheese, the fat content is about 20 percent.

When milk is collected from dairy farmers, we take a sample of the milk. Among other things, we check this sample for the presence of antibiotics. If we find antibiotics in the milk, we destroy the milk and the farmer is fined heavily. Farmers therefore make every effort to ensure that antibiotics do not get into the milk.

No, if you have a cow's milk allergy you cannot eat cheese, because cheese and also Beemster cheese contains cow's milk protein. Please note that a cow's milk allergy is not the same as a lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance (forms of this are Lactase deficiency/lactose malabsorption). Lactose (milk sugar) occurs naturally in milk. During cheese making, the lactose present is converted into lactic acid by the lactic acid bacteria from the starter culture.
CONO Kaasmakers (makers of Beemster cheese) declares that the cheese it produces is naturally free of lactose.

Lactose hypersensitivity reactions are complex and vary from person to person. We recommend contacting your doctor or dietician for more information.

Yes. Beemster cheese is made from pasteurized milk. You can just eat Beemster cheese.

In the Netherlands, the fat content of cheese is indicated by a percentage. Thus, 40+ cheese is fattier than 30+ and 20+ cheese. This percentage expresses the fat content in the so-called dry matter. This is the total weight of the cheese minus the moisture. In fact, this moisture percentage can fluctuate because the cheese loses moisture during storage. Full-fat cheese is 60+, 50+, 48+ or 45+. Skim cheese should not contain more than 10% fat in dry matter.
On foreign cheese, the fat content is also calculated on the dry matter content. For example on German cheese '60% Fett im Trocken (Fett i.tr.)' and on French cheese '60% de matières grasses (m.g.)'.

No. While the plus sign is the fat percentage of the cheese, it does not mean that a 30+ cheese is 30% fat. The fat content in cheese is always expressed as the percentage of dry matter. A cheese consists of dry matter and moisture (water). The moisture content of cheese decreases as the cheese ages. However, the dry matter in cheese remains the same, making it easier to calculate the fat percentage over the dry matter.

An example: A Beemster 30+ cheese consists of 38% moisture and 62% dry matter. So 100 grams of Beemster 30+ Aged contains 38 grams of moisture and 62 grams of dry matter. The fat content of this cheese is 30+, which means at least 30% fat in 62 grams of dry matter. So 100 grams of Beemster 30+ contains 30% fat of 62 grams of dry matter, this is 19 grams of fat. The dry matter in cheese contains protein, vitamins and minerals in addition to fat. Protein is an important nutrient in cheese. Milk protein in cheese is similar in nutritional value to protein in meat. Therefore, cheese can serve as a meat substitute in (vegetarian) meals. Calcium (lime) is one of the most important minerals in cheese, along with phosphorus and sodium. For example, 100 grams of Beemster 30+ cheese contains 1030 milligrams of calcium, which is about equal to the daily requirement for the average Dutch person. Cheese also contains B vitamins and vitamins A and D (present in the fat).

GMO-free refers to the cows' feed. Milk from cows fed without GMO (GMO content lower than 0.9%) means that no genetically modified organisms are used.
In other words: Beemster cows eat mainly grass. The farmers grow their own honest grasses and crops, so never genetically modified varieties. In addition to the grass ration, the cows eat concentrate that is also 100% GMO-free. Beemster cheese is therefore the only cheese in the Netherlands that is made completely GMO-free. All raw materials for the feed are grown naturally. Almost 80% of all cow feed comes directly from the region. Everything the cow eats is reflected in the milk. And thus in Beemster cheese.

No, there is currently no evidence of that. There have been studies by various parties
done on health risks and the like. No concrete results have come out of that.

Yes, CONO Kaasmakers is certified for this by Qlip. You can find the certificate in CONO Kaasmakers' document list here.

The Beemster cheese brand

At this time, it is not possible to take a tour of the cheese factory of CONO Cheesemakers, makers of Beemster cheese.

Beemster van 't mes is a cheese we make especially for cheese specialty stores. Look here for more information: Beemster van 't mes

No, you can't. The only real Beemster cheese bears the Beemster coat of arms; that is the guarantee that you are buying real Beemster cheese. However, the cheese may have been made in the cheese factory of CONO Kaasmakers, just like Beemster cheese. But these brands still have a different taste. In addition to Beemster cheese, the following cheese brands are made by CONO Kaasmakers:

- Screen mills
- Stompetoren
- Knife Beemster
- Weydeland
- Redbeard
- Weapon of North-Holland
- Oudendijk
- CONO

In Belgium, CONO Kaasmakers' cheese is sold under the brand name Beemster, but also under other brand names.

Forkiness is a typical cheese term that refers to the texture of the cheese. If a cheese has good spreadability, it is soft creamy, yet resilient and cohesive in consistency. Forkiness is tested with the fingers (spreadability) and mouthfeel.

Sponsorship is about making choices, conscious choices. CONO Kaasmakers is a farmers' cooperative and receives daily requests to sponsor an event, association, activity or charity. We choose to support a number of activities for a longer period of time. For example, we sponsor Kaasmarkt Alkmaar, Kaasmarkt Edam and various events and festivals in the Netherlands. In this way we reach as many cheese fans as possible with our brands.

We adhere to the sponsorship policy below for other requests.

PRINCIPLES
CONO Cheesemakers' core values are: Together, Conscious, Sustainability, AND the tastiest cheese! These core values form the basis of the criteria for a sponsorship request.
The emphasis is on :
- social involvement
- sustainability
- in line with the brand values

Sponsorship requests with specific community significance can only be considered for review of the application, to be emailed at least three weeks prior to the activity to sponsoring@cono.nl

Are you a CONO dairy farmer? Then send your application to livestock department, Angela Schuurman, aschuurman@cono.nl.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR SPONSOR REQUESTS charities, events and associations
The sponsorship request:
- is submitted via the email address listed
- clearly indicates the deliverables of both parties
- Has a social significance
- Must not be for profit

What do we not sponsor:
- causes with a political or religious message
- study trip
- activity for a student, carnival or neighborhood association
- anniversary, reunion
- in principle no multi-year contracts (exceptions in consultation)

HANDLING OF SPONSORSHIP REQUESTS
Should a sponsorship request fit within our sponsorship policy, it will be further reviewed and handled by our Marketing & Communications Department. Each request is carefully evaluated. It may happen that a request is rejected even though it meets the criteria.

CONSIDERATION
Both the sponsored party and the sponsor benefit from a sponsorship. The quid pro quo offered for sponsorship therefore determines the choices we make. We like to make clear agreements about what we want to achieve with the sponsorship. In return, we look beyond placing an advertisement or billboard.

How nice! You want to give a talk about Beemster cheese! Of course there is a lot to tell about that! You can visit this page you can find everything you need to make a presentation: Talk about Beemster cheese.

The talk package is suitable for grades 3 through 5 and grades 6 through 8.

Because we like the fact that you are going to hold a talk about Beemster cheese, we want to send you a little surprise. Are you curious and would you like to receive this surprise? Then leave here your details here.

Have fun with your talk!

We are currently developing more sustainable packaging in which our Beemster cheese stays deliciously fresh.

The current packaging and the interleaves may be disposed of with the plastic waste. The pad may be disposed of with residual waste.

Cheese making

Beemster cheese is named after the Beemster, a beautiful region in North Holland with ancient polders. That is where the CONO Cheese factory is located, where Beemster cheese is made.

Cheese can be aged as a whole cheese (i.e. not cut) for up to 2 to 2.5 years. The flavor still comes out well then. Cheese in this age is called crumbled cheese. Among Beemster cheeses, Beemster X-O- with its aging time of over two years is the oldest cheese.

Old cheese is more expensive because it must be cared for in the cheese warehouse longer than young cheese. A Young Beemster cheese matures for only a few weeks. A Beemster X-O-, on the other hand, takes much longer to come to flavor. Old cheese also contains less moisture. So per kilo you get more cheese if you buy old cheese.

"Grass cheese" is cheese made from the milk of cows that, after being stabled over the winter, go back out to pasture and eat fresh grass for the first time. This produces tastier milk, and so the cheese tastes at its best. Because the fat in the milk has a softer taste when the cows eat fresh grass.

The holes in Beemster cheese are formed by the lactic acid contained in the cheese. This lactic acid, which gives the cheese its distinctive flavor and allows you to keep it longer, causes a little gas to form. This is how the holes form in the cheese.

Sometimes larger holes form in the cheese. Our cheesemakers constantly check the cheeses for quality and therefore for even hole formation, but still it can happen very occasionally that there are differences. Cheese, of course, remains a natural product. Sometimes this hole also contains some moisture. This can happen if some cheese whey has remained in the cheese during its preparation. This poses no danger to public health.

Yes, the Beemster cheese where animal rennet is used has an official, issued, halal certification. In addition, almost all Beemster cheeses are vegetarian where no animal rennet is used. These can be recognized by the V-label label on the packaging.

Please note; some cheeses are not vegetarian (yet): Beemster Organic and Beemster X-O-.

In most Beemster cheeses vegetarian rennet (microbial) is used which meets strict quality requirements. In the Beemster cheeses that are not vegetarian, animal rennet is used that also meets strict quality requirements, for this we have Halal certification.

Yes, almost all Beemster cheese is vegetarian. The cheese is made with vegetarian rennet (microbial). This comes from microorganisms, such as yeasts and fungi.
Beemster Organic and Beemster X-O- are not (yet) vegetarian.

Yes, on the Beemster packaging with cheeses that are vegetarian you will find the V-Label, With the V-Label label you can see at a glance that the product is vegetarian.

The Vegetariërsbond manages and monitors the V-Label label in the Netherlands. The V-Label label is used worldwide.

No, Beemster cheese is not vegan. The cheese is made from cow's milk.

Taste

It may be that the cheese you tasted is older than the cheese you normally eat. As the cheese ages, the flavor of the cheese develops more. The cheese becomes spicier. Also, the moisture content becomes lower, so the concentration of salt becomes slightly greater in proportion.

The taste is determined by a number of important factors. First, of course, you need the best ingredients: tasty milk, as well as leavening and rennet. In addition, the time the cheese spends in the brine bath is important and the time it is given to mature. Beemster cheese is still allowed, very traditionally, to take its time to develop its flavor undisturbed. Want to know more about how we make Beemster cheese? Then read more about it here!

Cheese is a natural product, small taste deviations are part of it. It can therefore happen that one piece of cheese differs slightly from another. Also, the taste of cheese changes as it ages, it becomes slightly spicier. If you taste a soapy flavor, the ripening process has not gone well. Beemster cheese strives to prevent this taste deviation, which is why we perform many quality checks. Have you bought a piece or package of Beemster cheese in which this taste deviation still occurs? Please contact us so we can refund the purchase price. This abnormal taste poses no danger to public health. If the cheese tastes slightly sour, it is because proportionally more lactic acid has been formed in the cheese than normal. We also try to prevent this taste deviation at Beemster cheese with many quality controls. If it does happen, please contact us so we can refund the purchase price. This slightly more acidic taste poses no danger to public health.

The flavor of Beemster cheese is under the rind. So eating the rind of Beemster cheese is in itself not intended, but not harmful. A breathable plastic coating is applied to the rind around Beemster cheese. It protects the cheese from drying out too much and from mold growth. That coating is not harmful either, your body just doesn't digest it.

Yes, the crust has been removed from the slices. So there is no need to cut off the edges.

With aged cheese, so-called wet eyes can occur. This is a natural process in which cheese moisture has accumulated in a "cheese eye" (a hole). This poses no danger to public health.

This sometimes appears on pre-packaged cheese. The white powder consists of protein crystals. When the cheese is cut, small cheese particles may detach from the cheese and remain on the slices or pieces of cheese. They do not affect the taste or quality of the cheese.

Did you find white dots in the cheese? Don't worry, these are so-called aging crystals formed during the maturation of the cheese. These aging crystals are characteristic of natural aging and characteristic of the tangy taste of older cheese. Enjoy your meal!

Making cheese with vegetarian rennet (microbial) does not affect the (h)honest taste of (our) Beemster cheeses, the tastiest cheese comes from the Beemster.

The transition to "made from milk from cows fed without GMO (GMO content lower than 0.9%)" does not affect the (h)honest taste of (our) Beemster cheeses.

Additions

All Beemster cheeses, with the exception of Beemster Organic and Beemster Goat, contain E160b(ii)*, the natural colorant annatto. The amount used is absolutely harmless to health. During our quality controls, we always check the dye content of the cheese.

The plastic shell around the rind of Beemster cheese contains E235 (natamcycine). This protects our cheese from unwanted mold and mildew growth during the relatively long natural ripening process. Natamycin is used in such small amounts that it does not penetrate the cheese. If the rind is removed before consumption to a thickness of about 5 mm, the natamycin is no longer present. It poses no risk to public health. Cono Cheese Makers does not use preservatives in its cheeses.

All listed E number are tested and approved under European legislation and allowed to be used in food preparation. It is a guarantee that it is safe.

* (ii) Norbixin, is the water-soluble part of Annatto.

To make one kilo of cheese, you need about ten liters of milk. A Gouda cheese weighs twelve or sixteen pounds, so this requires 120 or 160 liters of milk.

No, Beemster cheese does not contain flavor enhancer vetsin salt.

No, none of the ingredients have been irradiated with gamma rays. Beemster cheese
provides good shelf-life cheese in an authentic, artisanal way.

Yes, Beemster cheese contains the dye E160b; Annatto(ii), a natural dye. This dye is definitely harmless to health.

GMO-free refers to the cows' feed. Milk from cows fed without GMO (GMO content lower than 0.9%) means that no genetically modified organisms are used.

In other words: Beemster cows eat mostly grass. The farmers grow their own honest grasses and crops, so never genetically modified varieties. In addition to the grass ration, the cows eat concentrate that is also 100% GMO-free. Beemster cheese is therefore the only cheese in the Netherlands that is made completely GMO-free. All raw materials for the feed are grown naturally. Almost 80% of all cow feed comes directly from the region. Everything the cow eats is reflected in the milk. And thus in Beemster cheese.

Sale

  • Beemster cheese is sold in supermarkets, cheese stores and markets.
  • There is a cheese store in the Beemster polder at Rijperweg 20 next to the cheese factory.
  • There are a number of farm stores in North Holland that sell Beemster cheese. An overview of all farm stores can be found here.

Of course, you can also visit our online cheese shop for your weekly cheese order!

In the Beemster polder, our cheese store is located next to the cheese factory. The opening hours are: Monday to Saturday 8.00 to 16.00. The cheese store is located at Rijperweg 20 in Westbeemster.

More and more farmers are running their own store on their property. The farmers, members of the CONO Kaasmakers cooperative, sell several varieties of Beemster cheese here. Click here for an overview of the farm stores.

Grazing

Cows are getting out of the barn less and less often. In 2014, 69 percent of Dutch dairy cows walked in the pasture, one percent less than a year earlier. In 2001, ninety percent of Dutch cows were still standing with their legs in the grass (source CBS). Some dairy farms choose to keep their cows inside year-round because they don't have enough land next to their barn or because it costs them more time and/or money. CONO Cheesemakers, the makers of Beemster cheese is in favor of "cows in the pasture. A cow is a grazing animal and should be given space for its natural behavior. The milk from cows that eat fresh grass provides more taste and creaminess in our cheese, which is why CONO Kaasmakers encourages its member dairy farmers with a premium on top of the regular milk price to let their cows graze.

Yes, all Beemster cheeses are made from 100% North Holland pasture milk. This milk is collected separately and processed into Beemster cheese. The cows graze outside in the meadow for at least 120 days a year, for 6 hours a day. This number is the standard used by Stichting Weidegang to be called 'meadow milk'. In practice, the cows of our member dairy farms spend many days as well as hours longer in the pasture.