Unlike other cheese markets in the Netherlands, the Woerden Kaasmarkt is entirely authentic (unlike Gouda and Alkmaar). Woerden is the Netherlands’ final commercial cheese market, where farmers and purchasers negotiate prices using conventional methods. Continue reading to find out more about this intriguing Dutch cheese market!
Most Dutch cheese markets in the Netherlands are historical re-enactments in which actors and residents portray what it would have been like to attend the ancient cheese markets named after the cheeses. This is true of Edam, Alkmaar, and Gouda. Woerden lacks the extensive tradition of other cities, as the cheese market dates only from 1885.
This vast 400-year-old cheese market on the Waagplein (“weighing square”) is open every Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., beginning on April 1 and ending on September 30.
What can you expect at the Woerden cheese market?
The Woerden Kaasbel is rung at the start of the cheese market to announce that the Woerden cheese market is about to begin. The cheese bell may be found at the Stadshotel. The farmers have already arrived at the cheese market, their tractors loaded with cheese.
It is usual to have both a trader and a farmer. The merchant will first inspect the cheese to test its quality through various methods, including poking a small hole in it and tasting it. The transaction does not commence until the merchant is convinced of the quality.
Then you’ll observe the famous handjeklap (handclap) trading approach, which is duplicated at various cheese markets throughout the Netherlands. The vendor states a price and then moves to slap the other person’s hand. If the farmer disagrees, he slaps his hand before challenging the price. It can go on for a long time with both parties haggling over the last cent. They shake hands rather than slap each other’s hands till the second agrees on the pricing proposals.
When a price is agreed upon, the buyer enters it into the market’s ledger. This price applies exclusively to this farmer’s cheese; other farmers will be able to negotiate their own rates. Because the price represents the cost of the cheese per pound, weighing is the next step in the process.
After the cheese has been sold, it must be weighed to establish the final payment. They exhibit the weights in Woerden with a traditional scale, but I also observed an electronic scale… Once weighed, the farmer is paid, and the cheese is delivered to the buyer’s warehouse, where it is stored until the merchant sells it.
You can also buy fresh cheese prepared by the farmers using milk from their dairy farms. The ones you buy at the grocery are manufactured in a factory.
Shacks that sell cheese
The Cheese Shacks are part of the Cheese Market. The shacks house over a hundred different types of cheese, which the public can sample to their hearts’ desire. From ancient cheese and Gouda from the northern portion of the Netherlands to sheep cheese, there is something for everyone. Because each provider has its own product line, there is a great deal of variety. With this vast choice, Woerden even has the most extensive cheese tasting in the Netherlands. Come to the Cheese Market in Woerden and sample the cheeses for yourself!