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Gouda Cheese 101

I’ve been calling the Netherlands home for a whole month now, so it’s time we get cooking again! And what better way to kick off life in the Netherlands than by celebrating with cheese! Gouda cheese, of course. So as always, we’re kicking off this Gouda cheese cooking spree with a rundown of the basics of Gouda cheese. Here’s everything you need to know!

Block of Gouda cheese in the rind

Where does Gouda cheese come from?

Contrary to what you might think, Gouda cheese is not actually made in the city of Gouda, but rather, it is traditionally bought and sold in Gouda. Way back in the Middle Ages, towns could earn the rights to trade certain commodities. The town of Gouda had the rights to trade cheese, so that’s where people went to buy and sell cheese!

Nowadays, “Gouda” refers more to the style of cheesemaking than the actual cheese, as Gouda cheeses can vary widely depending on age. For this reason, the name “Gouda” isn’t protected or meant to define only the cheese coming from Gouda. If you want the real deal, look for “Noord-Hollandse Gouda”, as this title is protected and can only represent true Dutch Gouda made with Dutch milk.

Here is everything you need to know about the infamous Dutch cheese, Gouda cheese! Variations, how to store it, nutrition information, and more.

How is Gouda Cheese Made?

So how is Gouda made? When cultured milk curdles, some of the liquid whey is removed and replaced with warm water, which is then drained. This is known as “washing the curds”, and it helps to remove extra lactose, therefore preventing some of the lactic acid formation. The curds are then pressed into round molds and are plopped into a brine (salt water) bath. The cheese is then set out to dry, coated in wax or plastic, and aged for anywhere from one month to over one year.

How do you pronounce Gouda?

And if you’re trying to be a real cheese connoisseur, you’re going to have to pronounce it right. While in America we pronounce it “g-OOO-dah”, it’s actually pronounced “(g)h-OW-da”. We don’t have anything like the sound of the Dutch G in English, but it’s almost like you’re clearing the back of your throat or are gargling. Cute right?

Block of Gouda cheese in the rind being cut with a cheese peeler

Types of Gouda Cheese

Perhaps I’d just never paid as much attention to cheese in America as I have since living in the Netherlands, but I’ve noticed that the common classification of cheese in the grocery is either “jong” (young) or “oud” (old). Digging a bit deeper, the Dutch actually classify their cheeses into six categories based on age:

  • Young or New: aged 4 weeks
  • Young Matured: 8 to 10 weeks
  • Matured: 16 to 18 weeks
  • Extra Matured: 7 to 8 months
  • Old or Fully Matured: 10 to 12 months
  • Very Old or Very Aged: over 12 months

What does Gouda cheese taste like?

The younger Gouda cheeses will have a more mild, soft, and almost sweet taste and texture. They’re best on sandwiches or crackers. The older Gouda cheeses become harder, stronger, and darker, taking on a buttery and nutty flavor. The deep flavor of the older Gouda makes it great for cooking (like in some Gouda mac n’ cheese), with crusty bread, or with wine.

Block of Gouda cheese in the rind form the Netherlands

What’s the white stuff on my cheese?

In the older/more matured Gouda cheeses, you may find crunchy, white crystals throughout the cheese. This is often confused with salt crystals, which sometimes form on the outside of the cheese as result of the brine bath. The clusters inside the cheese, however, are actually bits of tyrosine, an amino acid and the sign of a well-aged cheese!

White stuff inside old Gouda cheese not mold

How to Store Gouda Cheese

Cheese is a living, breathing thing, so it’s best not to suffocate it in plastic. Wrap your Gouda in parchment paper, then loosely wrap that in plastic. Set in the warmest area of the fridge, like in a vegetable drawer near the bottom. Gouda should last 2 to 3 weeks. Freezing alters the texture of the cheese, so I would recommend against it unless you absolutely must.

Gouda Cheese Recipes

Here are a few of our favorite recipes to cook with Gouda cheese:

Different types of Gouda cheese in the rind and cut into blocks

Nutrition Information for Gouda Cheese

per 100 g (3.5 oz)

  • Calories: 356
  • Carbohydrates: 2 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Fat: 27 g
  • 70% Daily Value (DV) of Calcium: 1% of the calcium in your body plays a vital role in vascular contraction/dilation and nerve transmission and signalling. The other 99% supports teeth and bone structure and function.
  • 26% DV of Vitamin B12: A water-soluble vitamin important in brain and nervous system function as well as red blood cell formation. It is only found naturally in meat and animal products, but can be made industrially via bacterial fermentation.
  • 26% DV of Zinc: A mineral important in strengthening your immune system, healing wounds, and maintaining your sense of taste and smell.
  • 20% DV of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): A water-soluble vitamin that acts as a component of FAD to help your body break down macronutrients in the electron transport chain, creating usable energy.
  • 11% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the preformed version of the this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from an animal source. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
sarah

Hi, I’m Sarah! We’re working our way through the easy vegetarian kitchen, one ingredient at a time. Learn more and follow along!

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  1. Fab post! I adore Gouda (and, well, any cheese really! Some cool facts in here. Particularly that it’s not made in Gouda but sold there! Can’t wait to hear more about your Dutch adventures!

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks, Emma! Yea I was surprised by that one too! Good for when you need a good cheese fact/party trick 😉

  2. This is so interesting! We visited the cheese museum in Amsterdam a few years ago and this took me right back. Cheese is such a fascinating product, because it’s so varied, and so delicious 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      There’s a cheese museum in Amsterdam?! I must go! I typically just walk through all the cheese shops, sampling them til I’m stuffed 🙂 Thanks for dropping by, Helen!

  3. I tend to prefer eating cheese to learning about it, but I found this post so interesting! Gouda is one of my favourite cheeses, must pick some up next time I spot it 🙂

  4. Absolutely LOVE Gouda cheese. Well, Lets just say I have a weakness for cheese. You can snack on it, you can add it to food, and you can have it as a dessert. What a versatile food item. YUM!!

    1. Sarah says:

      I’m with ya! And YES to Gouda for dessert. If you come back next week I’ll be posting Apple Gouda Hand Pies for the blog’s birthday 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Marisa!

  5. You’ve got me craving some gouda mac & cheese now! Great info and love your pics 🙂

  6. Maggie Racadio says:

    We used a wheel in a recipe covering with pie crust The cheese melted but it looked like a fish scale was around it. We are pretty sure we removed the wrapping. Should it have looked like that?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Maggie! That’s so strange and I’m not entirely sure what would have cause that. Sometimes they’ll coat a wheel in (edible) wax, perhaps it was that? Sorry I can’t be of more help!