In Search of Germany’s Hidden Cheeses on the Schleswig-Holstein Cheese Route:
Germany has a long tradition of cheese-making and cheese is one of the staple foods in the German diet, yet outside of Germany, we don’t hear a lot about German cheeses.
In this country with its varying landscapes and good arable farmlands, it is believed that some 600 different cheeses are produced according to regional methods of production and traditions. The 600 figure sounds a bit rubbery or “cheesy” and most non-Germans, I would guess, would only be able to name a handful of German cheeses.
Why don’t we hear a lot more about German cheeses? Could it be that German cheeses are perceived to be similar to or just derivations of cheeses from its neighbours like Switzerland and the Netherlands. In fact some of the popular German cheeses are believed to have been created by immigrants to Germany:
- Tilsiter is believed to have been first created by Dutch immigrants to Germany in the mid-19th century while they were trying to recreate Dutch Gouda cheese.
- Like Tilsiter, Wilstermarschkäse is said to have been first made by Dutch immigrants.
- Germany’s Allgäuer Emmentaler was created by two Swiss master dairymen employed by Bavarian Elector Maximilian
The Cheese Trail
Cheese lovers can unravel the secrets about German cheeses and discover more about Germany’s hidden cheeses on the Schleswig-Holstein Cheese Route. This 500 kilometre circular route in the far north of Germany travels through this maritime region and links the cheese producers in the area. With its coastline and sandy beaches, many people know Schleswig-Holstein as a holiday region, but few are familiar with it as cheese-making area.
Schleswig-Holstein’s tradition of cheese production actually goes back to the Middle Ages. Today there are numerous farm cheese dairies and well over 30 local producers offering more than 100 types of cheese. Tilsiter is one of the cheeses typically produced in Schleswig-Holstein.
Schleswig-Holstein is a narrow region with the North Sea on one side and the Baltic on the other and Denmark to its north. Apart from cheese and the dairies, the Schleswig-Holstein Cheese Route links many places of interest between the North Sea and the Baltic, the river Elbe and the Danish border.
Like Germany’s other scenic routes, there are historic towns such as Glücksburg and Lübeck, magnificent country estates, fine manor houses, baroque-style stately homes, Gothic buildings, beautiful churches and many museums to visit along the entire route. North Germany’s largest open-air museum is in Molfsee and is well worth a visit. You can walk or cycle along the Kiel Canal where there are also plenty of boat trips to choose from. The region also offers excellent camping and farm holidays.
A wide-ranging program of events take place along the Schleswig-Holstein Cheese Route, including cheese markets, dairy open days, cheese tasting, German cheese making, as well as guided tours. You can find out more about the Cheese Route and what’s on along the route by visiting the Kaesestrasse’s website www.kaesestrasse-sh.de.