Dutch Gardening

In traditional Dutch cooking, vegetables represent one-third of the total meal. After all, potatoes, vegetables, and meat form the traditional Dutch culinary trinity, the so-called AGV (aardappels, groente en vlees: potatoes, vegetables and meat). Although many different and more modern dishes have made a presence on the table along the way and in newer times, the traditional AGV was for many of us the way our parents and our grandparents grew up. 

When Dutch children ask their parent what will be served for dinner, the answer will most likely be the name of the vegetable. Since certain vegetables are traditionally paired with certain meats (i.e. red cabbage will traditionally be served with hachée, a tangy meat stew and boiled potatoes, zuurkool (sauerkraut) comes with mashed potatoes and kielbasa, or salt pork, spinazie (spinach) will be creamed and served with boiled potatoes and fish or a meatball), the children will automatically know what the rest of the meal is going to look like.

On a, perhaps, not so separate note, the Netherlands is one of the top producers of vegetables in the world. The quality of the products is excellent and people will shop every day for fresh vegetables. Not many Dutch people have space for a garden or have the time or desire to invest in a volkstuintje, a terrain allotment outside of the city limit that can be rented for a fee. Growing your own vegetables while two miles further down the road is a huge greenhouse that produces tons of the same seems silly to many. Nevertheless, the resurgence of "forgotten" vegetables (i.e. old-fashioned vegetables and fruits) is making a come-back, and for those of us living far away from the Netherlands, growing traditional produce is a good way to connect back to our roots. 
Frozen and canned vegetables are not used very often as fresh vegetables are available year round, are fairly affordable and of good quality. It is understandable, therefore, that the emphasis is on the type of vegetable that is served and why vegetables are so important to Dutch cooking.

Although most of us are abroad, many of these traditional Dutch fruits and vegetables are available to grow in our own gardens. I'm gathering information below if you want to expand your gardening and eating repertoire with some old-fashioned Dutch varieties. I do encourage you to buy heirloom, or non-GMO treated seed, so that you can save the seeds for next year and replant. 

For your information, I have also listed the names of traditional varieties grown back in the day, but I am unsure they are available elsewhere, if at all. If you can find them, great!

To get you started, the links in each section will take you to a vendor or a site where you can purchase the seeds. I would encourage you to buy from organizations that carry heirloom varieties and/or that invest in maintaining seed banks. Also think of supporting small and local nurseries that are trying to make a living instead of the larger, commercial tree growers, if you can. Your local nurseries will know better what works best for your area. 

Also, places like Trees of Antiquity, or Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, or Seed Savers are great places to look for unique and heirloom seeds. If you have a specific request, I can also help look, if you'd like. Contact us via FB or email (address is in About Us). 

Please know that with the Amazon purchases, a small amount comes back to The Dutch Table. It will help with some of the expenses to run this site, so we're very thankful if you do order through our links! 

Dutch Vegetables

Andijvie (Curly Endive, chicory) - Cichorium endivia
Andijvie is the green vegetable component of one of the Dutch's most desirable stamppots, the andijviestamppot. The green leafy vegetable is easy to grow. The outer, darker leaves have a slightly bitter taste which works perfectly with the mashed potato. You can order andijvie seeds here
Some traditional varieties are: Van Meaux, Perfecta, Utrechtse Reuzenstruik, Groene Volhart...

Bietjes (Beets) - Beta vulgaris
Bright red beets, bietjes, are eaten often with dinner. They can be boiled as a vegetable, or pickled as a side dish, or an addition to haringsalade, herring salad. Seeds can be ordered here. There is also a white variety, Albino. Traditional Varieties: Deventer Zwartblad, Lange Zwarte Roode, Noordhollandsche Veilingbiet, Vuurkogel...

Bintjes (Dutch potato) - Solanum tuberosum
Bintjes are Holland's most famous potatoes: they're buttery yellow potatoes with an exceptional flavor. Their starch content puts them right between starchy and waxy, making it a very versatile spud. Potatoes can be grown in buckets, planters and raised beds, so give it a go! Please click the link here to find Bintje seed potatoes. Other varieties: Opperdoese Ronde, Eigenheimer, Duke of York, Rode Star, Friesche Geelen, Record...

Bloemkool (Cauliflower) - Brassica oleracea
Nothing as Dutch as steamed cauliflower with a "sausje", or a bechamel. Grow your own this year and enjoy fresh cauliflower from your garden or raised bed! To order seeds, click here. Several heirloom varieties: Delftlanders, Westlandia, Pionier, Gloria, Haagsche Taaie...

Boerenkool (Kale) - Brassica oleracea
Farmer's cabbage, or boerenkool, is better known as kale. It seems to have taken over every food magazine, salad bar and smoothie drink, but we known it best in a stamppot boerenkool. You can order seeds here. Heirloom variations are, amongst others: Westerwoldsche, Mous, Amsterdamse...

Bonenkruid (Savory)
A typical application for bonenkruid, bean herb, is as its name indicates: with beans and other pulses. It presumably reduces flatulence. Seeds can be found through this link

Bruine Bonen (Brown beans) - Phaseolus vulgaris
Dutch brown beans are used for two main dishes: bruine bonen met rijst (brown beans with rice), and bruine bonensoep (brown bean soup). It's a flavorful, buttery bean that holds its shape well and is easy to grow. You can order seeds here (Canada) or here (USA). Heirlooms: Zeeuwsche, Noordhollandse, Kogelboon, Koffieboon...

Capucijners (Dutch field peas) - Pisum sativum
Capucijners are field peas: brown, creamy peas that are eaten in a soup or as a stew. Another word for capucijners is blauwschokkers. You can order Amazon here or get a dwarf variety here. If you don't want to grow them yourself or don't want to wait that long, and prefer to get the dried variety, click here instead.

Kervel (Chervil) - Anthriscus cerefolium
A popular herb that is used in the Dutch kitchen, in soups and salads. The flavor is a combination of anise and parsley and lends a refreshing taste to the dishes. Here is a link to the seeds.

Knolselderij (Celeriac Root) - Apium graveolens var. rapaceum
This vegetable is sometimes hard to find abroad, but it's almost a necessary ingredient in Dutch soups, especially erwtensoepsplit pea soup. It's also good stuffed and baked in the oven. Here is a link for seeds, or here. One variety would be the Roem van Zwijndrecht.

Meiraapjes (Turnips) - Brassica rapa subsp. rapa
Meiraapjes are an old-fashioned, forgotten vegetable that is slowly making its way back into Dutch cuisine. Shredded or sliced into salads, soups, or stewed they make a great addition to your Dutch cuisine. Pick the early, small leaves for raapsteeltjes, turnip greens, stamppot. Here are the seeds. The Mei Platte Witte is an heirloom variety.

Postelein (Purslane) - Portulaca oleracea
A fresh, green summer vegetable that is often served in soups and mixed in stamppots. Seeds can be found here. 

Prei (Leeks) - Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum
How can we live without our leeks? Look at any shopping cart of Dutch grocery shoppers and, nine out of ten, you will see one or two healthy leeks sticking out of the bag! They're pretty easy to grow, and here is a link for the seeds. Several heirloom varieties: Brabantsche Winter, Leidsche Dikke, Herfstreuzen...

Raapsteeltjes (Turnip Greens) 
The young leaves of the turnip are a popular addition to stamppot. Pick them when they're 4 inches tall and add them in last minute - no need to cook. Get seeds for meiraapjes (turnips) here. 

Rabarber (Rhubarb) - Rheum rhabarbarum
A lovely, tangy, fiber-rich vegetable that makes a great sauce to be served on the side, or added as a second component to a lovely strawberry rhubarb pie. Seeds can be found here. Heirloom varieties include Champagne Rood, Engelsche Vroege, Goliath...

Rode Kool (Red Cabbage) - Brassica oleracea
Rode kool met appeltjes, red cabbage with apple, is probably one of the most traditional Dutch dishes that many remember from our childhood. Grow your own with these seeds! Several heirloom varieties: Deventer Zwarte, Kissendrup, Langendijker Donkerroode, Roodkop, Utrechtse Zwarte....

Schorseneren (Salsify) - Scorzonera hispanica
This "poor man's oyster" vegetable is a wonderful surprise if you have not had it before. Very popular in the 1970s, this vegetable has become forgotten over time, partially because of the way it tainted the preparer's hands black, gaining its popular name "huisvrouwenverdriet", house wife's misery. If you can put this minor issue aside, I highly encourage you to grow this vegetable in your garden this year! Seeds are available here. Some heirloom names; Duplex, Eenjarige Dikke, Veursche nietschieters....

Snijbonen (Flat beans) - Phaseolus vulgaris
Cutting beans, or snijbonen, are flat green beans. Most often served as "blote billetjes in het gras" (naked bottoms in the grass), the green bean will be cut at a diagonal angle, and a whole white beans will be tossed in for good measure, giving the resemblance of the aforementioned naked behinds. Grow your own! We've had good luck with the Roma(no) variety. Here's an Amazon link to a seed vendor or try this one. In Holland, they grow predominantly the Helda variety, but it can be harder to find. Check with your regular seed sources. Heirloom varieties include: Veense Gewone Vroege, Slagzwaard...

Spinazie (Spinach) - Spinacia oleracea
Who doesn't remember eating creamed spinach with soldiers, small strips of fried bread? Now you can grow your own spinach! Seeds are available here. Heirlooms: Amsterdamsch Reuzenblad, Deventer Groene, Hollandia Reuzenblad, Nobel, Noorman, Venlosche Winter Rondzaad...

Spruitjes (Brussels Sprouts) - Brassica oleracea
Loved or hated, but rarely found neutral, spruitjes or Brussels sprouts are a traditional winter vegetable and very popular in the Netherlands. Boiled, steamed or braised, they add a typical flavor. Try them in a stamppot - it's often that people who claim not to love spruitjes fall in love with them! Here are the seeds! Heirlooms: Spiraal, Nunhem's Kolom, Echte Brusselsche, Huizer, Bredase...

Tuinbonen (Fava beans) - Vicia Faba
Tuinbonen, garden beans, are slightly bitter, flavorful pulses that are found in traditional Dutch cooking. They are usually served in either a bechamel sauce, with a sprinkling of nutmeg, or sautéed with bacon. In Limburg, they're called "paterstieëne", priest toes. They're hard to find fresh or frozen, so growing them yourself might be an option! Click here for a link. Heirloom varieties include: Driemaal Wit, Windsor Blanke, Leidsche Lange.

Ui   - Allium cepa
A beautiful blood red onion that comes from the province of North Holland. Onions are easy to grow, and this sweet but onion-y onion will make a great addition to your table and your garden! Seeds can be hard to find, but you may try Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or SeedSavers Exchange. Heirlooms are: Noordhollandse Rode (red), Barletta (pickling onion), Zwijndrechtse Pootui, Zeeuwsche. 

Veldsla (Corn Salad, Mache) - Valerianella locusta
Also know as corn salad or mache, veldsla is a type of field green. It can be used as a salad green, or as a stamppot added right to the mashed potatoes before serving. Healthy and nutritious, veldsla is also easy to grow. An Amazon link to heirloom seed can be found here. Dutch heirloom varieties: Goudblad, Coquille de Louviers, Volhart, Verte de Cambrai...

Winterpeen (Winter carrot) - Daucus carota
The winter carrot is otherwise known as "winterpeen". It is a larger, coarser carrot that collects sugars after the first frost and is therefore sweeter, but also more fibrous. A traditional winter dish with carrots is called "hutspot": mashed potatoes with carrots and onions. Here's a link for the seed. The variety in the US is called Autumn King/Flakkee. Others are: Berlikumer, Lobbericher, Bauers Kiele Rote.

Witlof (Belgian Endive, chicory) - Cichorium intybus var. Foliosum
Witlof is a slightly bitter vegetable - but that pairs beautifully with ham and cheese as an oven dish. This is not an easy vegetable to grow, as it takes some extra care, but it's worth the effort. Seeds can be found here. Several heirloom varieties: Meiwonder, Brusselsch Witloof.

Witte Asperges (White asparagus) - Asparagus officinalis
The "white gold" of Limburg - these white asparagus are delicious boiled and served with some melted butter, or as a soup. For white ones, make sure they remain covered until you harvest them. The link for seeds is here. Dutch varieties include: Argenteuil, Hollandsche Witte, Limburgia, Lucullus, Roem van Brunswijk...

Witte Kool (White/Green cabbage) - Brassica oleracea
This is the best cabbage for making zuurkool, sauerkraut, but it is also very tasty boiled and served with a little bit of butter, or a white sauce with nutmeg. Here is a link for seeds. Varieties include: Amager, Blauwkop, Goudakker, Suikerwitte, Roem van Enkhuizen, Succes, 

Zuring (French Sorrel) - 
Zuring, with its fresh lemony flavor, is a welcome sight in early spring, when it makes its appearance in fields and along ditches. It makes a great soup or addition to salads. Seeds can be found here.

For a more detailed list of heirloom varieties, check the Wageningen University & Research page.

Dutch Fruits

Aalbessen (Currants)

Rood (Red)

Jonkheer Van Tets 

Zwart (Black)

Boskoop Giant

Wit (White)

White Dutch

Appels (Apples)

Belle (or Schone) van Boskoop
Rode Boskoop (also known as Goudreinet)
Karmijn de Sonnaville
Ananas Reinette
Red Prince
Wyken Pippin
Dubbele Bellefleur
Dubbele Zoete Aagt
Zoete Winterkroon
Groninger Kroon
Hermien van Eibergen
Zoete Brederode

Druiven (Grapes)

Glorie van Boskoop
Witte Van der Laan

Peren (Pears)

Gieser Wildeman
Zoete Brederode

Pruimen (Plums)


Mispel (Medlar)

Medlar Breda

Dutch Farm Animals




Groninger Blaarkop