Windmill talk series: spice mill "De Huisman"

De Huisman is actually a combination of three buildings combined into one. First and foremost, De Huisman, makes the outside of the mill, which is where the name comes from. Secondly, the interior workings of the mill come from the Indie’s Welvaren to process spices like it does now. Finally, the combination of the two are built on the warehouse De Haan. This was all done in 1955, as the mills had to make way for the expanding city of Zaandam and thus moved to the Zaanse Schans. Since 1961, De Huisman produces the world’s best mustard (of course it depends who you ask!), Zaanse mosterd, available across Holland in nearly every supermarket.

The original Huisman, stood along the blue path of Zaandam. No one truly knows when it was built, though the date 1786 comes up the most. In any case, it was very much in existence in 1802 when it was bought by a Johannes de Vries. It operated as a tobacco processing mill, one of the many big industries of the Zaan region. The Napoleonic war dealt a deadly blow to this industry however, and after 1815, there were very few tobacco mills left, De Huisman being one of the only ones remaining through the century. Fast forward to 1955, the post-war boom meant many local windmills had to make way for new residential districts, including De Huisman. The interior had been converted to a lumber mill by that time, so only the exterior was used on the new location.

The original Indie’s Welvaren, stood next to the original De Huisman on the blue path of Zaandam. This mill was a very recent addition to the Zaan region, only going back as far as 1908. By 1914, it had lost its utility as a windmill. The processing of spices was now gas powered to help keep up with demands for products. Like de Huisman, in 1955, it was forced to move or be torn down. It was the interior workings of the Indie’s Welvaren that were placed inside the skeleton of De Huisman so that they could combine to operate as the mustard mill they were always meant to be. The two were built on top of the warehouse of De Haan. This allowed De Huisman’s wicks to catch the maximum amount of wind to power the Indie’s Welvaren inside it. The produce then had an optimal place to be stored.

Zaanse Mosterd (mustard), specially made in De Huisman can be found in supermarkets in every corner of the Netherlands. Back during the dutch golden age, this mustard was sought out across the western world. It used one of the by-products of cheese production, acidified whey; It combined this whey with mustard seeds and mashed together to create this mustard.

After renovations in 2010, De Huisman was honoured by Dutch prince Johan Friso “Defender of the dutch windmill” in 2011. This was after mustard production had to be moved to another location because the mill was falling into disrepair. Now De Huisman stands proudly on the Zaanse Schans as one of the top tourist attractions as well as producing one of the world’s finest mustard.

Erik Schippers