I recently had a block of Vlaskaas cheese from Beemster (a company based in Holland) shipped to me to test, research and review and as a self proclaimed cheese lover I might have already been slightly biased when it arrived at my doorstep. But I put my personal love for milk protein aside and vowed to be completely professional on this review.
The first thing I noticed was the pink ribbon on the package and included blurb that for every pound of Vlaskaas sold between September 15 - October 31, Beemster would donate $.50 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. They also guarantee the minimum donation to be $10,000. I was impressed by their effort to support such a worthy cause in the fight against Breast Cancer.
Next thing that jumped out was the fact that this cheese is 100% all natural ingredients -- cow’s milk, salt, cheese cultures, rennet and annatto -- just six ingredients keeps the cheese in its purest form.
While reading through the story about the inception of this cheese I learned that it was invented as a snack for workers during the celebration time of the harvesting of flax. The recipe is the oldest in the line but was introduced the most recently as it was revived in about 2004 when the festival was also reborn. The literal translation of Vlaskaas is Flax Cheese.
Their pastures are 100% pesticide free and along with companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Beemster is part of the Caring Dairy program. The program includes efforts to provide enhanced love and, well, care for their cows. They have opened up the available space each animal has to move while inside (including the ability to simply lounge and relax), allow the animals to range freely among the pastures and just generally treat their cows with love and respect. Cool!
It also does not hurt that it was amazing on top of our vegetarian chipotle chili the other night and even better naked on wheat crisp crackers a few days later. Cheese does not usually last long in our house but this one seemed to go particularly quickly.
With only six cheeses in their line Beemster is able to consistently focus on the treatment of their animals, as well as the quality of their cheese, and by donating time and monies earned to such fantastic charitable organizations they certainly had no trouble impressing me. With all of this said I am granting Beemster Vlaskaas a Four Leaf Rating!