Gouda (Goo´-dah), pronounced (HOW-dah) in the Netherlands, is a washed curd, semi-hard, cows milk cheese that’s easy to cut and grate and also melts beautifully. Gouda's density allows your teeth to sink in, but immediately softens and become creamy once exposed to your saliva. That's what makes Gouda so GOOD!
Gouda is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands with its first mention in the year 1184. Gouda is not made in the town of Gouda anymore, it’s mainly traded there now. Most gouda has a mild, nutty flavor and a buttery texture that ends with butterscotch notes. Gouda is traditionally made in flat wheels of 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.4 kilograms), each with a thin natural rind coated in paraffin. Dutch gouda was originally exported covered in a red cloth to identify the variety, and modern-day gouda producers cover the cheese in red wax to carry on the tradition. The wax also helps reduce the cheese from drying out.
It is largely thought that the Dutch successes in exploration can be attributed to Gouda. The cheese sustained these explorers on their voyages, and into their colonies for some time.
If you are curious about how Gouda is made, check out this cheese making video.
Gouda is referred to locally, in the Netherlands, as Goudse kaas, or Gouda cheese. Boeren kaas (or boerenkaas), farmer’s cheese, refers to a Gouda that is handmade on the farmstead—an artisanal product rather than a mass-produced cheese. But the two names are often used interchangeably.
Most Dutch Gouda is factory produced. However, the age-old buying and selling ritual system called handjeklap, where buyers and sellers would clap each other's hands and shouts prices still happens today where a few hundred Dutch farmers produce Boeren kaas.
Gouda is served young to old. Young Gouda is gouda aged for 4 weeks. Old Gouda has been aged for 12 months or more. There are many variations in-between. As gouda ages, it develops a caramel sweetness and has crunchiness from the cheese crystals created during the aging process.
Gouda is now produced by various cheesemakers all over the world, and not just in the Netherlands. Gouda is increasing in popularity due to all the different varieties available that produce varying flavor strengths which are sure to suit any palate. Only Boeren kaas is considered a protected name and is registered with the EU. Boeren kaas can only be made in the Netherlands and can only use milk from Dutch cows.
Gouda is popular due to the fact it’s available in many flavor strengths as well as how versatile it is in the kitchen. From delicately mild, to bolder aged, Gouda can shape-shift like no other cheese.
Young Gouda pairs well with cherries and peaches. Aged Gouda pairs well with fruit like apples and pears. Pecans and walnuts offer a complimentary nuttiness that goes well with Gouda, too.
Smoked gouda is a famous variant of Gouda where it is smoked in brick ovens over flaming hickory chip embers. Most smoked gouda makers use a hot smoke—produced by an ongoing fire—which means the cheese is, in effect, cooked twice. The best-smoked gouda is “cold smoked” for over 12 hours. During low temperatures of a cold smoke, the ingredient is being flavored by the smoke - not being cooked like in a hot smoker, which is perfect for getting the best results. Smoked Gouda is a bit nuttier tasting than the regular Gouda. It's also easy to spot. Look for the smoke ring, and bring it to your nose and smell for smoke. Two easy giveaways.
Gouda also has the Vitamin K2. Not just a little, but a lot. Most people have never heard of Vitamin K2 since K2 in the Western diet and hasn't received much mainstream attention.
Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient for blood coagulation (blood clotting). Vitamin K2 is used to activate proteins that regulate where calcium ends up in the body.
The possible health benefits of Vitamin K2 which studies have suggested may be worth further investigation are mostly related to bone strength and arterial health (reducing calcification or even decalcifying, with a possible reduction in blood pressure).
The top 3 foods highest in Vitamin K2 is none other than the humble Gouda cheese, which boasts 75 mcg per 3 1/2 ounce serving! This compares to pastured egg yolks and butter, which each have about 15 mcg of K2 per 3 1/2 ounce portion.
Check out these great Gouda cheese products below.
Marieke Gouda made in Wisconsin
Jake’s Gouda made in New Work
Artisanal Gouda Aged For 4 Years
Marcoot Jersey Creamery Caved Aged Gouda
Roth Van Gogh Gouda
Frisian Farms Gouda made in Iowa