How much do you know about Gouda?
You know the many cheese puns and the smoked variety in your American deli case, but there’s a lot more about this Dutch masterpiece worth appreciating. Gouda, (technically pronounced GAOW-duh) which is now ubiquitous in almost any grocery store, gets its name from the large cheese market it was sold from, Goudse Kaasmarkt, in the town of Gouda, Holland. Like many classic cheeses, Gouda has been around for centuries and beginning in the seventeenth century it became a highly lucrative export for the country.
Much of this success is owed in part to the method developed to make it, and in turn create a now distinct size and shape. In order to reduce moisture and prohibit internal rot, the curds are cooked to expel whey and then pressed in large wooden molds to further expel. Gouda became one of the first highly recognizable cheeses, with its yellow waxy coating (from saffron), which also prevented maggots on long shipping voyages.
Not only did this method make Gouda a more durable cheese, it also produced the now familiar textures and flavor profiles we associate with the cheese. Removing whey removes more lactose and thus reduces acidity, making for a sweeter cheese. The flavor and texture of goudas also varies depending on its age. A younger Gouda will have a bouncier pliable texture that melts well and will have mild milky tasting notes. As Gouda ages the lactose breaks down even more, creating crunchy crystals and the texture becomes denser and harder. Aged goudas take on deeper flavors often described as nutty and like butterscotch. Goudas can be made with either cow, sheep, or goat milk, or a mixture of all three, each with a unique flavor profile.
There was a period where small producers in the Netherlands were few and far between and the market was dominated by commodity makers. There has been a resurgence though, and you will recognize them by the name “Goudse boerenkaas” roughly meaning “farmer cheese”. We source all of our imported goudas directly from these smaller makers that we specially visited and chose several years ago. Our domestic gouda style cheeses come from small, local producers.
There's a reason so many people love Gouda and know its name, and it's not just because of the puns. Goudas are approachable, unique, and versatile. Whether you're looking for something that'll melt for the perfect grilled cheese or burger, a late night crunchy snack, or a standout for your cheese board we have an amazing selection to choose from!