Zyra's website //// Food //// DIY //// Advice //// Site Index
Edam Cheese Skin
Red covering on a Dutch round cheese
The skin on a Dutch Edam cheese is typically red for the export market, and different colour codes for other purposes. The Edam skin is made of paraffin wax, and people wonder why it's there.
Can You Eat Edam Cheese Skin?
People often ask if it's OK to eat the skin. Well, yes, you can eat Edam cheese skin! It's red wax, but it's less brittle than candle wax. More like Blu-Tack. It tastes like candles. Candles are made of wax, and are also edible! However, it's the sort of thing to eat in emergency rather than as a main part of the diet. The Cheese is much better for eating. However, it's unlikely to do any harm if you eat the skin.
Uses for Edam Cheese Skin, for example mending roofs!
There are better things to do with Edam cheese skin than eating it, and it's too good to throw away. It's a recyclable wax product which has some surprising uses. For example, mending roofs!
I realised quite early on that Edam cheese, available from Asda, and the best value cheese in the supermarket, had something special about it. I ate huge amounts of it, sometimes buying whole spherical cheeses with the original Dutch crown label.
As surely as the cheese was good on toast (gluten-free toast), the skin, which seemed a by-product, must have its uses. I did some experimentation and found that the red cheese skin was a waterproof substance, and waxy. It could be melted and formed into ingots, and had a fine surface tension when fluid.
I realised that Edam cheese skin was not just a style, and that it probably had a history to it. It seemed that Dutchmen were seafarers and explorers and they sustained themselves on long voyages by having plenty of nutritious cheese onboard the ships, protected from the sea by the cheese being encased in a waterproof layer of wax.
On doing some research into this, the covering on Edam cheese is a piece of 14th Century technology to protect the cheese against water and air. The idea of recycling Edam cheese skin as roof mending stuff is perhaps more recent. I have found that roof mending by any means is tricky. Whatever is used needs to be waterproof and weatherproof but also able to expand and contract along with the roof. Very few substances can do all of this. Glass fibre looks good at first, but it doesn't expand and contract sympathetically with metal.
Edam cheese wax skin does.
In the movie Shades of Grey , there's a Zyra quote about repairing the roof of an old truck using Edam cheese! This is of course the skin, which would be applied using a welding kit to melt it into the surface of the metal.
Applying Edam cheese skin to mend metal roofs in a Tropical Climate:
When applying Edam skin to a metal roof, the waxy paraffinous fluid seeps into all of the rough parts of the roof and forms a leakproof seal. However, in a tropical environment, the heat of the sun tends to make the roof so hot that cats can't walk on it. This presents a problem to any wax mendings of the roof, as the wax can melt. However, to protect Edam cheese skin mending patches on a tropical roof, the solution is to put a heat-shield up. This consists of a chunk of white expanded polystyrene, and then half a breeze-block on top. This arrangement reflects solar energy and keeps the roof temperature down to about 40 degrees C, and at the same time the weight can not be wafted away in the wind.
Edam cheese skin repairs to corrugated "zinc" (Galvanised steel sheet) is waterproof such that it can be submerged, which is what happens when water is arriving on the roof at strength.
How to Collect and Store Edam Cheese Skin
When you eat a piece of that delicious Edam cheese, take the skin off and store it. Cheese keeps quite a while, but the skin keeps indefinitely, like candles.
The skin can be stored safely in a tin and used later, when the need arises. This is much more practical than having a desperate hunt to find some Edam skin if you need some to perform a repair. Only a few percent of an Edam sphere is skin, and you'd have to eat a lot of cheese to get enough.
If the pieces of cheese skin are getting tricky to store, you can melt them down in a saucepan, and turn them into blocks. This is easier to store.
Remember, the skin has cost you to buy, at whatever price per kilogramme you paid for the cheese, so you might as well use it!
Other Cheeses with Useful Wax covering
Although Edam cheese is the most famous wax covered cheese, other cheese are equally good at providing useful wax if they come with a covering. For example, Mini Babybel, Orkney Cheese, and some interesting Welsh cheeses. The wax comes in different colours, but it is the same useful stuff.
What is a Cheese Rind?
Some people describe Edam cheese red stuff as "Rind". Others say it is not rind at all. The consensus of opinion is that an actual cheese rind is a layer that forms on a cheese like the head of a pint of beer forms on the surface of beer. Rind is part of the cheese, like a pie crust is part of a pie. In contrast, any coverings such as net, cloth, wax, or the supermarket bag you take it home in, are an additional covering.
Where to get Edam cheese?
I've found Asda is very good value. Also other supermarkets such as Tesco. Plus, there are specialist cheese companies such as Pong Cheese (also see Cheese is Grate! Cheddar Akbar!), The Cheese Society, London Fine Foods , and a few other choice Food places at this site!