March 17

Gouda Cheese – Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Caitlin Clark

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One of the oldest surviving varieties of cheese, Gouda has been in continuous existence since at least 1184. It is highly valued for its rich, caramelly flavor conferred by the grass where cows graze in the valley.

Over 300 farms in the Netherlands still make Gouda using old-fashioned production methods. Still, it also exists in modern, industrialized forms, which have popularized it across Europe and the United States.  

Below we've outlined our comprehensive guide to everything gouda. Leave a note at the bottom of the page if you have any questions/comments.

What is Gouda Cheese?


what-is-gouda-cheese

A semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from the Netherlands, Gouda has a dense texture, orange color, meltable crumb, and very few eyes. Its flavor is reminiscent of nuts and caramel. 

The name “Gouda” is not protected in the same way as other varieties, like Camembert or Brie, defend their names. However, traditional production methods define Gouda as a style, although the degree of aging produces significantly different results.  

Another customary aspect of Gouda is its shape; although wheels as large as 176 lbs may be molded, they always appear as wide, flattened wheels.

Where Does Gouda cheese come from?


where-does-gouda-cheese-come-from

Although Gouda is named after a city in Noord-Holland, it probably didn’t originate there. Instead, the town of Gouda (pronounced “how-da”) was the center of a vigorous cheese trade in the Netherlands and enjoyed a monopoly over the cheese trade, including the cheese to which it would give its name.  

Local traders, often in traditional costume, still travel to Gouda to have their cheese weighed and priced.

How is Gouda Cheese Made?


To make Gouda cheese, cheesemakers mix whole milk (either pasteurized or raw) with bacteria and rennet. The curd solidifies into a gel before undergoing a double cut (first to 1-inch pieces, then a few minutes later to ½ inch pieces). 

The double cut helps retain fat; this is part of what gives young Gouda its meltable texture. Then, curds are molded and washed with hot water before pressing.  

Washing removes some of the lactose, which is the substrate that bacteria convert to acid. Removing it results in a sweeter, less acidic cheese when the aging process has finished.

How-is-gouda-cheese-made

Cheesemakers press the cheese, then brine it with a solution of water, salt, and vinegar for a few days before it undergoes aging.

Many styles of Gouda are covered in a layer of cheese wax to prevent the cheese from drying out during its aging period.  Traditionally, Gouda is coated with red or yellow cheese wax.

Some styles, like Boerenkaas (farmer’s cheese), are simply brushed or wiped periodically to maintain a clean rind. 

Different Kinds of Gouda Cheese?


  • Oplegkaas: This is the only type of Gouda with PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) restriction. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and must be aged a minimum of two years. 
  • Boerenkaas: Boerenkaas is an artisanal variety of Gouda made from the unpasteurized milk of cows grazing on low valleys in the Netherlands. The farmers who manufacture these cheeses must follow strict traditional production rules. 
  • Gaskaas: This young Gouda is made from pasteurized milk and aged just a few weeks before it is considered ready to consume
  • Overjarig: Aged 5 years or more, Overjarig develops tyrosine salt crystals and a rich flavor like toffee.
  • Jong, Jong belegen, Belegen, Extra belegen, and Oud: Between Gaskaas (youngest) and Overjarig (oldest) are five additional types of Gouda, categorized according to the length of their aging time and the corresponding strength of flavor and firmness of texture.

Gouda Cheese Substitutes?


gouda-substitutes

    Edam

    Edam is also a semi-hard Dutch cheese with a dense, meltable texture and a nutty flavor.  It does not share Gouda’s caramelly sweetness, so unlike Gouda it can become quite sharp as it ages.

    Cheddar

    While Cheddar’s taste is much sharper and saltier than Gouda’s, its density and texture make it a serviceable substitute in many recipes.

What does Gouda Cheese taste like?


Young Gouda is creamy, mild, and nutty and just beginning to take on a caramel-like flavor. Aged Gouda is strongly reminiscent of butterscotch and toffee, with an occasional burst of flavor from tyrosine crystals that have formed during aging. 

Gouda Cheese Pairings


gouda-cheese-pairings
  • Young Gouda , like Gaskaas, Jong, or Jong Belgen Gouda pairs well with fresh apples or stonefruits, plus a medium-bodied beer. 
  • A Gouda of medium age, such as Belegen, Extra Belegen, Oplegkaas, or Boerenkaas boasts a well-rounded flavor, and it is excellent with a Chenin Blanc or sparkling cider. These will accentuate its caramel notes. 
  • Aged Gouda, such as Oud or Overjarig, will pair best with a Merlot, Shiraz, or other deep red wine, along with dried fruits.

Best Gouda Cheese Brands


  • Van Kaas: Imported from the Netherlands, this brand offers Goudas in a variety of ages, although mostly their young Goudas are found in the United States. At affordable prices, this brand makes real European Gouda accessible across the Atlantic.
  • For a well-known aged Gouda that is available outside the Netherlands, try Two Sisters beloved Isabella Gouda. Available for purchase from online sources and specialty cheese counters, Two Sisters’ famous cheese has a rich, nutty, deep flavor that is an excellent introduction to aged Goudas.

Where to Buy Gouda Cheese?


Excellent Gouda options of all ages are available online from www.igourmet.com and www.murrayscheese.com and www.cheeselandinc.com. If you prefer to try before you buy, a cheese counter at your local Whole Foods or specialty cheesemonger. 

Some very young Gouda-style cheeses by supermarket brands like Sargento and Boar’s Head are available at most Deli Counters, but they do not rival the flavor that an imported Dutch Gouda will achieve. 

How Long Does Gouda Cheese Last?


If Gouda is properly stored, it will last about three weeks in the fridge. To achieve the longest shelf life, wrap your piece gently in parchment paper, then set the wrapped cheese in an unsealed plastic bag or wrap it loosely in plastic wrap.

Keep it towards the bottom of your fridge--ideally in a vegetable crisper drawer, because these areas tend to be slightly warmer. 

How to Make Gouda Cheese?


Instructions for how to make a young Gouda-style cheese are available from New England Cheesemaking at https://cheesemaking.com/products/gouda-cheese-making-recipe

Frequently Asked Questions: 


What is gouda cheese good on?

Gouda cheese is an excellent melting cheese, and it makes a sophisticated grilled cheese sandwich and a delightfully adult mac’ and cheese.

How to serve gouda cheese?

Gouda is often associated with apples. Try a few green apple slices on a Gouda grilled cheese, or stack a triangle of young Gouda with a piece of apple on a cracker. 

How to melt gouda cheese?

At 43% moisture and up to 28% fat, young Gouda is an ideal melting cheese.  You can melt it in the microwave if you remove the wax coating first or with any other gentle, persistent heat source.  Aged gouda is much lower moisture, and so it does not melt as well.

Concluding


Another cheese article down for the count. Gouda can really make your taste buds explode, and digging deep into its uses and history makes us more keen to using it most effectively.

Leave a note below if you have any questions/comments!

Cheer,

Caitlin


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About the author

Caitlin is a Ph.D student and chocolate researcher at Colorado State University. Her research in the Food Science program focuses on chocolate fermentation (that’s right, it’s a fermented food!) and small-batch post-harvest processing techniques. When she is not acting in her capacity as resident chocolate guru, she researches other fermented foods and beverages like beer, sausage, and natto. Caitlin was drawn to fermented foods while living in rural Spain for six years, where she was exposed to traditional, time-honored practices of food preservation. At home, she practices Bollywood dance for fun and is followed everywhere by two small pet rabbits.

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