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What is Gouda?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Gouda is perhaps the most famous Dutch cheese export, with millions of wheels of the cheese being sent all over the world. Gouda is also made in many other nations, often by Dutch farmers who like to carry on the tradition of Gouda making. Gouda is often used on dessert platters, sandwiches, and at wine tastings as a palate cleanser. Depending on the age of the cheese, Gouda can be mild or strong, and is usually labeled accordingly.

Gouda grows sharper as it ages, starting out very creamy and mild. If allowed to age, the cheese will grow more complex, much more astringent, and almost cheddar like. Gouda is a semi firm cheese, and usually comes wrapped in a wax rind. The color ranges from white to creamy yellow, with aged cheeses usually being darker, while the flesh of the cheese is sometimes pocked with small holes. Gouda is also often smoked by dairy producers, which complicates the flavor in a way which many consumers find enjoyable. Some Gouda producers also make flavored cheeses, adding herbs, pepper, jalapenos, and other ingredients to the cheese while it is being manufactured.

One type of Gouda, noord-hollandse gouda, has a protected designation origin, meaning that cheese labeled thusly must actually be produced in the Netherlands by a licensed dairy which undergoes regular inspection by the European Union. This protected cheese is a crucial part of Dutch culinary heritage, and tends to be of a very high and consistent quality. It is usually sold very young, and has a distinct creamy quality which is superb on crackers.

To make Gouda, milk is mixed with rennet and starter cultures, often imported from the Netherlands. Most dairies use pasteurized milk to make Gouda, although not always. This mixture is allowed to sit until curds start to form, and is then drained to release whey. The curds are cut, often in several passes, to release more whey and hot water is added to facilitate the process. If the cheese is to be flavored, flavorings are added before the curds are scooped into cheese forms and pressed.

After the cheese has spent several days in the mold, being turned periodically to ensure even drainage, it is placed in a brining tank which mildly salts the cheese and encourages formation of a rind. Then the cheese is aged before being wrapped and sent to market. Depending on the market, the cheese will be sent out young, at around two months, or aged for up to one year.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon152984 — On Feb 15, 2011

what is the nutritional value of gouda cheese?

By anon133926 — On Dec 12, 2010

I bought a trio of Goudas (plain, herb, dill) when visiting Amsterdam about two years ago. They are still sitting in my fridge, untouched, wax casing unbroken. Do you think they are still good? Would I know if they weren't good by sight or by taste only?

By anon127946 — On Nov 17, 2010

Is the rind edible?

By anon112875 — On Sep 22, 2010

It depends where you shop, and what kind you get. Most mid priced grocery stores sell Gouda for about $5. It is more expensive then your regular cheddar or american, but if you want good cheese, you do have to pay a bit more.

By WaterHopper — On Aug 01, 2010

The price of Gouda cheese depends really on what you are looking for. The maturity of the cheese has a lot to do with the price. Mature cheese is a lot more expensive than young cheese.

There are probably not many of us that visit the Netherlands regularly, but the price of Gouda cheese is significantly lower there.

The larger the quantity, the cheaper the price. If you order around a pound of Gouda cheese, it would cost you anywhere from $12-$20.

By dega2010 — On Aug 01, 2010

Is the Gouda price more than other cheeses?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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