The dutch have a rich culture filled with windmills, clogs, herring, black licorice and cheese. Over the course of history they have invented, created and refined the best kind of cheese that is well-known throughout the world. Gouda….doesn’t that just make your mouth water?
Gouda was invented in the Netherlands and was named after the city of Gouda where it was commonly traded during its early beginning around 1184. Unlike how most people pronounce Gouda. The actual pronunciation in the Dutch language turns the ‘g’ into more of an ‘h’ sound and the ‘ou’ is pronounced as ‘ow’. So instead of ‘goo-da’ like how most people (including myself) say it. It is actually pronounced like ‘h-ouw-da’.
Gouda is the most popular cheese that is exported from the Netherlands. Unfortunately in America most Gouda that is eaten is produced commercially resulting in a less flavorful cheese. It can be made using raw milk as well as pasteurized. Many of the artisan varieties use goats or sheep’s milk as the cheese will be aged for a long time.
There are seven classes to Gouda cheese based on how long it has aged. Graskaas is produced using cows milk in the spring when the cows have eaten the tender, new grass sprouting after the winter. this produces a rich and creamy cheese. Jonge Kaas has been aged for only 4 weeks. Jong belegen kaas has been aged for 2 months. The older age cheeses include extra belegen which has been aged for 7-8 months, oude kaas which has been aged for 10-12 months and overjarig which is aged for 1-2 years. As Gouda ages it produces crystals of calcium lactate. Some Gouda is aged for 5 years making a brittle and crumbly cheese.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to this carefully crafted cheese. You can add many different spices and seeds to the cheese to add different flavours. My favorites are just you regular gouda(the rind is my favorite) and the dutch spiced gouda which has caraway seeds in it. You can use it on bagels, breads, crackers, the possibilities are endless!
From cow to artisan to you, gouda is a deliciously crafted cheese that can contain many different flavour profiles. If you are ever interested in trying some Dutch culture I highly suggest getting yourself some mild or medium gouda with some spiced gouda and crackers. For a real treat add some pickled herring on the side. 🙂