Gouda cheese or “How-da” as the locals call it, is a Dutch cheese which is named after the city of Gouda in Netherlands. Most people might think that they are made in the city of Gouda but it’s not. It’s just traditionally bought and sold there. Gouda cheese can be traced back from 1184, making it one of the oldest cheeses in the world that is still being made today.
Back in the Middle Ages, towns are able to earn the rights to trade certain commodities and the town of Gouda had the rights to trade cheese. That is the reason why people go there to buy and sell cheese. The town has been a cheese center for quite a while. There was also a weighing house in that city that was built in 1668 where people bring cheeses to be weighed. It still stands up to this day.
Gouda is one of the most popular cheeses in the world with 50 to 60 percent of the world’s cheese consumption. In the present time, Gouda refers more to the style of cheese making than the actual cheese. They can also vary depending on age.
This means that the name “Gouda” is not protected or meant to define only the cheese that comes from Gouda. But if you want to find the real cheese from Gouda, you should look for “Noord-Hollandse Gouda”, because this is a protected title and can only represent true Dutch Gouda.
How It Is Made
Gouda is usually made from pasteurized cow’s milk but there are other cheesemakers who use sheep’s or goat’s milk as well. It is made by a process called washing the curds. It is when the cultured milk curdles, some of its liquid whey is replaced with warm water and then drained. This process helps remove extra lactose, preventing lactic acid formation.
After washing the curds, it is then pressed into round molds for hours or sometimes even days. Then it will be placed into a brine or salt water bath. After that, the cheese will be coated in wax or plastic and set out to dry. Then, it will be aged from a month to over a year.
Taste and Distinguishing Features
Gouda cheese has a sweet and slightly fruity taste which increases with age. The younger Gouda cheeses are, the milder, softer, and sweeter they will be. When they are older, they become harder, stronger, and darker.
Gouda cheese has seven different kinds and they are classified based on age. Those aged 4 weeks are referred to as young or new or also known as Graskaas. Extra aged on the other hand, is called Overjarig which is full-flavored and has a salty taste just like toffee. The other kinds in between the ages are the Jong, Jong Belegen, Extra Belegen, and Oud.
Aged Gouda cheeses sometimes have white crystals. Those crystals are not salt but tyrosine which is an amino acid. When you find a Gouda cheese with these crystals, it means it has aged well.
It is a creamy kind of cheese, a lot more so than cheddar and you can find the best ones as the creamiest. There are also cheesemakers who love to add spices to milder Gouda cheeses and some of their popular choices are cumin and caraway.
Gouda cheeses are color yellow and they come in either black wax or red wax. Those with red wax are usually the younger ones which are aged around 6 months while those with black wax are older, usually aged from 12 to 18 months. They are also known to contain a lot of fat. In fact, its fat content in dry matter is 76%. It is also not a vegetarian cheese.
Gouda Cheese Pairings
Just like other kinds of cheeses, Gouda is also great when paired with different foods. Younger Gouda cheeses are best paired with beer while medium aged ones can be paired with a fruity Riesling or Chenin Blanc. If you prefer a well-aged Gouda cheese, you can pair it with deeply flavored wines like Merlot or Shiraz.
Gouda cheese can be served grated, sliced, cubed, or melted. It can be used as a table cheese or dessert cheese. People in Netherlands also use them to richen soups and sauces. And if you like to enhance its flavor, you can add herbs, seasonings, and nuts to it as well.
When storing Gouda cheese, you should wrap them in parchment paper and in a loosely plastic wrap. Then set it in the warmest area of your refrigerator. This way, it will be able to last 2 to 3 weeks. You can also freeze it but it can alter the texture of the cheese.
Gouda cheese is indeed a great kind of cheese and it’s amazing to know that people in Netherlands have been making them from many years ago up to the present time. It is really a must-try for cheese lovers out there.