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Extraordinary quality goes into each step of Leyden cheesemaking. Leyden, like Edam, originates from the Dutch homeland in the farming area outside the city of Leiden (in Holland it is spelled Leiden, but everywhere else you'll find it carrying the name Leyden). This cheese, like its cousin Edam, has a rich heritage. Just like Edam, it’s made from rich, skimmed milk, but this is where the similarities end. Leyden cheese has an additional ingredient—creamy buttermilk—and the result is a deliciously firm, subtly-spicy taste. The addition of cumin and caraway seeds give Leyden its truly unique flavor. As Leyden ages, the cumin seeds draw whey from the curds—think of the way salt draws water out of eggplant—resulting in a cheese with a drier and firmer texture than Edam. In Holland, Leyden is known as Cumin Cheese but because its production is centered around the city of Leiden it is exported under the name of Leyden. Its history is rather mysterious; no one seems to know how this cheese first came about. One popular theory is that an apprentice cheesemaker was munching on some cumin seeds —a very popular spice in Holland—and accidentally dropped a handful into the cheese vat. In fear of being fired, he didn't tell the cheesemaker and when the cheese was tasted, they all loved it! It's may not be how it happened but it is as good an explanation as any!
Flavored with cumin seeds, this unique cheese has an aromatic flavor that contrasts well with its creamy, nutty character. Its spicy tang makes it a delicious snack. Leyden is an excellent cheese to serve with dark bread, crackers, ham, a hearty red wine, or beer!
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