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What is Gouda cheese 

  • 19 minutes read time

What is Gouda cheese

Originating in the mid-16th century, Gouda cheese takes its name in reference to the city of Gouda, in the Netherlands. The Gouda cheese ended up receiving that name because it is a cheese with a strong presence in the local commerce of the city in question. Despite the reference and homage to the Dutch city, this cheese is currently produced all over the world. 

what is gouda cheese

Nowadays, “gouda” has actually become a generic classification given to all cheeses with characteristics similar to those of the original version of the delicacy. 

This is because this cheese does not have a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin), that is, its characteristics, means of production and ingredients are not protected by the European Union classification. In this way, the originality of Dutch Gouda cheese was lost over the years and ended up being adapted by other nations. 

What is gouda cheese

Gouda cheese is originally made from whole cow's milk. Some small producers choose to use goat's or sheep's milk in the production of this cheese, which brings completely different results. 

A soft textured cheese that is very popular in Europe. It carries with it a long history along with the Dutch culture, however, today it is already part of the culture of several places. 

what is gouda cheese

The history of gouda cheese

The first mentions of Gouda date around 1184, one of the oldest cheeses in the world. By ancient Dutch tradition, the production of cheese and dairy products in general (like butters, for example) was a female task. In this way, the wives of farmers performed this important function of making cheese for the family, passing on their knowledge to their daughters. 

Today, most Dutch Gouda cheese is made industrially, but some farmers (estimated at around 300) still produce this cheese by hand on their farms. This version is called boerenkaas (“farmer’s cheese”) which is, in turn, the protected (registered) form of Gouda cheese. 

It is interesting to note that the cheese bears the name Gouda, however, contrary to what the vast majority may think, it is not because it was produced in the city of the same name. This cheese was actually very commercialized in the city of Gouda and ended up receiving that name. 

This is because in the Middle Ages, some cities in Holland could acquire feudal rights that guaranteed them a monopoly on certain products. What happened was that in Holland County, Gouda acquired the market rights to this cheese, as well as the exclusivity of a local market where farmers could sell it.

All the cheeses were taken to the Gouda market square where cheesemakers, distinguished by their different colored straw hats, carried the farmers' cheeses. Typically, pieces of cheese weighed around 16 kilograms and had to be loaded onto wheelbarrows. Buyers tasted the cheese and negotiated the values in a kind of bargain. Once the value was decided, the porters would take the piece to a specific place for weighing and complete the sale. 

what is gouda cheese

The taste and texture of gouda cheese

Gouda cheese is one of the most appreciated in the world. Much of this title comes from the fact that it is a mild cheese variation that will please most palates. It is a cheese with few holes and a delicate and slightly salty film (rind).

As previously mentioned, the name “gouda cheese” is much more related to the way it is prepared than to its origin. The age, or rather, the maturation of the cheese will be the decisive factor in its final taste. 

The youngest gouda cheese, that is, the cheese that has matured for a shorter time, will have a smooth, soft texture and delicate flavor, being described by some experts as “almost sweet”. Some people describe it with hints of soft caramel.

Gouda cheese, in its longer-aged version, will completely change its texture, becoming firmer, stiffer and more crumbly. In this version, we will feel more buttery aromas and flavors that are reminiscent of nuts. 

Another factor that changes a lot according to the level of maturation is the color of these cheeses. A young gouda will have a bright yellow color, reminiscent of an egg yolk. A long-ripening gouda cheese will have a dark yellow color, more opaque, with little shine and small white crystals that can be easily noticed on its surface.

 These salt crystals, found in older versions of cheeses, are often confused with salt crystals that can form on the surface due to the brining process. But that's not what it's about. These whitish clumps are actually chunks of tyrosine, which is an amino acid. In fact, this is one of the easiest and most visual ways to identify an aged and mature cheese. 

 There are also versions that go beyond the original taste of Gouda cheese. We can mention here different versions such as gouda with bacon, gouda with truffles and even gouda with cumin seeds. 

what is gouda cheese

What are the different types of gouda cheese

You may have never paid attention to cheese ratings, but I can assure you that it is nothing like the detailed Dutch ratings. 

In the Netherlands, the classification of cheese varies by the age (ripening time) of the cheese, which can be classified as “jong” (young) or “oud” (old). Going into more detail, the Dutch classify their cheeses into 6 categories, by age:

  • Young or New Gouda : 4 weeks old
  • Young ripened gouda : 8 to 10 weeks
  • ripened gouda : 16 to 18 weeks
  • extra gouda – matured: 7 to 8 months
  • Old or fully ripened Gouda : 10 to 12 months
  • Very Old or Very Aged Gouda : more than 12 months

“Older” cheeses, by which I mean longer-aged, will have a stronger flavor and color, while younger cheeses will be softer and more delicate. 

It is important to note that these ratings do not define quality. A longer-aged cheese is not necessarily a better cheese. They are simply ingredients used in different preparations and that harmonize better with specific preparations. 

what is gouda cheese

Differences between Gouda and Cheddar

It is common to consider replacing Gouda cheese with cheddar cheese in recipes. This is often because they are cheeses with a strong color and flavor, thus giving the erroneous idea that they taste similar. 

The first visual difference that we can notice between the two cheeses is the presence of the rind. The bright yellow rind of Gouda cheese is a necessary characteristic of Gouda, while Cheddar does not have any rind. 

Another factor that will scream the difference between these two cheeses is the fat content. Gouda has a fat content of seventy-six percent, while Cheddar ranges from seven to forty percent. Just by touching it is already easily noticeable that Gouda is a fattier cheese.

Still following this line of fat content, as it is more fatty, Gouda cheese melts more easily than Cheddar, which in turn is firmer because it has less fat. 

However, the most important thing is perhaps to mention the difference in flavor between these two cheeses. Cheddar cheese, a classic hamburger accompaniment, is much stronger. I am not saying that Gouda is a cheese with a weak or very mild flavor, on the contrary, precisely because it is also a cheese with a present flavor, it can cause this doubt. However, Cheddar still overlaps quite a bit when it comes to flavor.  

what is gouda cheese

Health benefits of gouda cheese

If you're a cheese fan, you'll be happy to know that they are a healthy addition to your diet. With nearly 200 milligrams of calcium per ounce, gouda cheese is a great source of calcium. 

If you're lactose intolerant, know that gouda cheese has less than 1 gram of carbs per 28.3g serving, which means it's low in lactose and can be easier to digest. However, if you are diagnosed with a cow's milk allergy, you should avoid gouda cheese. Cow's milk is a very common food allergen, affecting up to 3% in children.

Although we have the unfortunate habit of consuming much more sodium than we should, it is necessary for the proper functioning of our body. That said, it is valid to present that a serving of gouda cheese holds 10% of the daily amount of sodium needed by our body. 

what is gouda cheese

The nutritional value of gouda cheese

In this topic, we will take the measure of 28.3g as a basis, as it is the conversion of 1 ounce, a very common mass measure in Europe and, therefore, the measure used in the sources on which this article was based. 

Calories and Sodium

a portion of 28.35 grams of Gouda cheese has 101 calories, 7.1 grams of protein, 7.8 grams of fat and 232 milligrams of sodium. This cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, but is high in saturated fat and sodium. This nutritional information comes from the USDA.

With 101 calories per 28.3g, gouda cheese is a high-calorie food. More than 70% of those calories come from fat and about 27% from protein.

Sugar and Carbohydrates

Like the vast majority of cheeses, Gouda is low in carbohydrates. 28.3g  of the cheese has 0.6 grams of total carbohydrates. Most of these carbohydrates are in the form of sugar. However, the sugar content comes from the natural sugar in cow's milk, lactose. Interesting to add that Gouda cheese has no fiber. 

Fats and Cholesterol

Gouda cheese has 7.8 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 2.2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0.8 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 32 milligrams of cholesterol. With whole cow's milk as the main ingredient, most of the fat in Gouda cheese is saturated.

Proteins and amino acids

As far as protein is concerned, this cheese is a good source of high quality protein, providing 7.1 grams per 28.3g. being a high quality protein, gouda cheese has all the essential amino acids.

Vitamins and Minerals

Gouda cheese is a great source of vitamins and minerals. A 28.3g serving provides 10% or more of the daily value of calcium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B12.

what is gouda cheese

How is gouda cheese made

The cheese-making process is long and full of details. Each cheese has its own specifications that form its main characteristics. Here we will detail the process of making Gouda cheese:

FirstThe Milk pasteurization: This is the process that eliminates bacteria from milk, making it safe for consumption. The milk is heated to 72°C, followed by rapid cooling. It is a mandatory requirement for cheese made in New Zealand and helps ensure a safe product. 

Secondforming the curd:

The bacterium is added to the milk in the vat at 29°C to acidify it. Bacterial culture introduces 'good' bacteria, which play an important role in the entire manufacturing process. The temperature creates ideal conditions for bacteria to grow, and the acidic environment helps prevent contamination.

Rennet is added to milk when it reaches a certain pH. This causes the milk protein to clot and separate from the liquid whey.

Third curd cut: When the curdled milk is firm - it shows a clean break when tested, it is cut into small pieces. Cutting the curds allows more whey to escape and reduces the moisture content of the final cheese. Gouda is a semi-hard cheese, so the curd is cut into smaller pieces compared to softer cheeses, precisely with the aim of releasing more moisture.

Fourth – Releasing the Serum: When the curd is small enough, the cutting accessories are changed to stirring accessories. A large part of the whey is released from the vat, so hot water is added and the temperature is increased while stirring continuously. Diluting the whey and raising the temperature helps to release more whey from the curd.

Fifth - Molding: When the curds are firm enough, they are compressed to squeeze out more whey and help them stick together. The compressed curd is marked, cut into blocks, placed in molds and pressed.

Sixth – Salting: When the molded cheese reaches the required pH, which is when it becomes more yellow, it is immersed in a brine solution. The salt is absorbed by the cheese. This slows bacterial growth, contributes to flavor, helps form a natural crust, and inhibits bacterial contamination.

Seventh - Coating: After removing the cheeses from the brine and letting them dry overnight, they are coated with a 'cheese coat' – a food-grade substance imported from the Netherlands. The function of the coating is to protect the cheese from contamination, while still allowing the moisture to evaporate. It also improves the appearance of the cheese.

Eighth – Maturity: The coated cheeses are placed on shelves in a maturing room. The room is maintained at a constant temperature of 16°C and 80% humidity. This allows the cheeses to mature – to develop their characteristic flavor and texture. During this time, the cheeses lose moisture and are turned daily to help develop a consistent texture.

Ninth - Packaging: When the cheese reaches the required maturity, it is vacuum packed and placed in storage refrigerated at 4 °C. This slows down the ripening process so that the cheese retains its characteristic flavor and also prevents contamination.

what is gouda cheese

how to store gouda cheese

Gouda cheese should be kept in the fridge at all times. Closed in its original vacuum packaging, it lasts up to 6 months. Once opened, it will last up to 4 weeks. 

how to eat gouda cheese

This cheese goes very well with breads (including whole grains), crackers and mustard. Depending on the age of the Gouda cheese, it can be paired with beer, wine or whiskey. 

This cheese is usually offered on cold boards or cheese boards to be paired with wines, especially white Chardonnay wines. 

Another way that works very well is in pasta or vegetable stir-fries. Grate some Gouda cheese over your pasta and let the heat of the preparation slowly melt it. The light aroma of nuts and butter will be the special touch of your dough. 

In sandwiches, it's also a great option. It can be served cold or in hot sandwiches (melted). Choose the age at which the cheese matures depending on how much you want it to stand out from the preparation. Longer-maturing cheeses will have a very intense flavor, making other ingredients stand out. 

what is gouda cheese

What drinks go with gouda cheese

Going into more detail about the drinks that go with this cheese, we can add that it goes well with drier wines like Chardonnay, Pinot, Grigio and Beaujolais. 

Chardonnay

Known as the “world's favorite white wine”, it can be found flavored with citrus fruits, tropical fruits and stone fruits (like pear and peach, for example). A classic Chardonay suits most gouda maturation ages. Chardonnays with bolder flavors will pair better with older gouda. 

Pinot Noir

A smoked gouda goes very well with a spicier wine like Pinot Noir. This wine also goes very well with the lighter versions with nutty flavors, as it will not overlap and harmonizes with delicacy. Young Pinot Noir's fruity flavors complement the gouda, and its low tannin and ideal acidity make it a spectacular combination. 

Grigio

This young wine carries a wide variety of flavors such as melon, citrus and pear. In some variants we can feel smoky tones and honey flavor as well. As a light wine, a Pinot Grigio does not overwhelm the taste of the gouda, thus offering light and sophisticated pairing. 

Beaujolais

Wines that pair very well with both younger and aged goudas are Beaujolais. They are light-bodied wines that can carry different flavor notes, such as strawberry and blackberries, for example. 

Cabernet Sauvignon

You can pair aged Gouda with Cabernet Sauvignon if you're a fan of more intense flavors. The high tannin content of these wines withstands the stronger flavors of a more matured gouda. These wines often have fruity, red fruit or even leather or tobacco notes. 

Cheeses that replace Gouda cheese

Gouda cheese is not the cheapest cheese option you will find in the supermarket. That said, options are needed to replace it. 

Fortunately, there are options that can replace both the taste and texture of gouda cheese in your preparations with quality. Feel free to substitute keeping the same ratio. 

Gruyere cheese

As with gouda, the gruyere It is a cheese that gets a stronger flavor as it ages. It's a cheese that goes well with most recipes because its mild flavor doesn't overwhelm other ingredients. It has texture and lightness similar to gouda and is available in most markets. Like gouda, gruyère pairs equally well with white wines. 

Cheddar cheese

Yellow-orange cheddar cheese is a great option to replace gouda, its flavor brings back nutty memories as well. Like gouda, cheddar has an intensified flavor related to its age. In addition, it is a cheese that is more likely to already exist in your fridge and that can also be more easily found in supermarkets. 

Monterrey Jack

This cheese is not common in all markets, but it makes a great replacement for gouda and is similar in value. It also pairs well with Pinot Noir and tastes delicious in breads and cookies. Although more buttery, it has a flavor and texture very similar to gouda. 

Recipes using gouda cheese

Gouda Cheese Sandwich

This is a super quick and delicious recipe for you to prepare in a maximum of 5 minutes. You will need two slices of a good loaf of bread, gouda cheese (approximately 100g) and a little butter (1 tablespoon)

The secret here is to brush the butter on the outside of the sandwich so that it browns well in the pan. It is also important that the heat is not too high, that way the cheese will melt while the bread creates a delicious and crispy crust, due to the butter. 

Breaded Gouda cheese balls

A practical and delicious snack option is gouda cheese breaded balls. To prepare them, you will need to grate the cheese very fine and form balls, using your hands. Then coat, first in the flour, then in the egg and finish with the thin corn flakes. 

It is important that the balls are fried on medium heat and for a short time, so they do not fall apart. If you use too high heat, it can get very golden and cold inside. 

Smash Burger with Gouda Cheese

The smash technique consists of placing the meat blend that will be used in the hamburger, directly on the plate in a round shape (as if it were a large meatball) and then pressing this meat ball until it turns into a hamburger. This technique has become very present in hamburgers because it promises to retain the meat's moisture, thus delivering a juicier hamburger. 

This Smash Burger recipe is prepared with a delicious grilled bread with a gouda cheese crust, plus an extra layer of melted gouda cheese on top of the meat. It's just delicious and you can easily reproduce it at home. 

Common questions

What is gouda cheese?

Gouda cheese is a cheese made in a similar way to the Dutch original and which in many ways resembles the taste of the original version. However, it is important to note that it is not the same as the cheese imported from the city of Gouda.

What to eat with gouda cheese? 

Gouda cheese goes very well with breads and crackers. It is a great option to pair with wines, being present in the most complete cold plates. It works very well with hamburgers and risottos as it is light, smooth and does not overlap with other ingredients. 

What types of gouda cheese? 

Gouda cheese is divided into 6 types, according to their age, that is, their maturation time. Below are the types of cheese according to their flavor and age:

  • Young or New Gouda : 4 weeks old
  • Young ripened gouda : 8 to 10 weeks
  • ripened gouda : 16 to 18 weeks
  • extra gouda – matured: 7 to 8 months
  • Old or fully ripened Gouda : 10 to 12 months
  • Very Old or Very Aged Gouda : more than 12 months

Can you eat the pink part of the gouda?

Not. This colored coating on the outside of the gouda cheese is actually made of wax and paraffin, as well as dyes. It must be removed before consumption.

final words

Here we hope to have dissected every detail pertinent to this tasty and classic Dutch cheese. As you can see, after reading this article, this is a cheese full of history and deserves to be appreciated by us, lovers of Gastronomy. 

Share this article with other cheese fans and let us know what recipe you felt inspired to make after learning about this delicacy. 

Thanks for reading this far and until next time.

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