Queso de Bola

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Queso de Bola. Photography by Dennis Villegas

Queso de Bola is the Filipino term, from Spanish, for Edam cheese. The term literally translates to "ball cheese". It is a Dutch cheese in a spherical shape (usually slightly flattened at the top and bottom) and coated with red wax. With its festive appearance, it is a favorite at Christmas time especially as part of Noche Buena.



Edam cheese has a pale yellow color and an elastic texture and is produced using skimmed or semi-skimmed cows’ milk from Holland. In Spain and Latin America, it is a delicacy. Aged for at least seventeen weeks, Edam is mild-tasting and slightly nutty. It gets saltier and drier with age and does not spoil easily. Edam is very close to another well-known cheese named Gouda, though it has a lower fat and moisture content (40% fat compared to Gouda's 48%).

It is usually molded in 2 to 4 pound (0.9 to 1.8 kilogram) spheres and coated in red paraffin. It is also produced in red-coated rectangular loaves. Originally the rind was brushed with vermilion to distinguish it from other Dutch cheeses, a purpose now served by the red paraffin. The wax is either yellow, red or black, the black color an indication that the cheese has been aged for a minimum of 17 weeks.

Edam cheese is an ideal table cheese and can be paired with fruits such as pears, apples, or peaches, breads and crackers, and wines such as Pinot noir or Zinfandel.


Edam cheese was one of the most popular cheeses during the 14th to the 18th century. It was preferred by most travelers because it could mature very well and last a long time. This made it ideal for traveling on ships to remote colonies.

This cheese was also said to have been used as ammo for cannons because it is hard, big and round, like a cannonball. Its name comes from the Harbor of Edam where the cheese was widely sold.

Philippine Christmas tradition

A traditional Christmas in the Philippines is not complete without Queso de Bola, for it has always included in Christmas banquets. Together with puto bumbong, bibingka and hamon, it has long been among the favorite foods that serve as Christmas icons in the Philippines.


  • Edam. (accessed on December 03, 2008).
  • Dadamo. (accessed on December 03, 2008).
  • Market Manila. (accessed on December 03, 2008).



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