Tasting Notes for Aged Gouda

BodyGouda is a heavy bodied cheese. It may have an occasional small crystal crunch
Primary TastesCharacteristic sweetness (caramel styes); notable umami (savoury); light salty notes
Dairy flavoursCooked milk, creamy, buttery
Other flavoursCaramel, fudge, toffee, butterscotch
Spices: cinnamon or nutmeg
Earthy: dry cellar, mushrooms
Fruits: fermented fruit (cider, white wine, sherry), dried fruits (raisons, apricots, dates)
Leaf: dried tobacco or chestnut

More about Gouda

Gouda is a Dutch cheese in origin, having common ancestors with edam, and travelling the world with Dutch traders and emigrants.

Shape and Size

Gouda’s shape is easy to spot. It looks like a balloon squashed between two flat plates – flat on top and bottom but completely rounded around the edge. In addition it will have a robust plastic rind, often yellow or orange and carrying the maker’s branding, that kept it safe as it matured.

The size and weight of a Gouda wheel can vary:

  • weight: 3 to 10 kilograms (6 to 22 pounds)
  • shape: diameter of about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45cm) and a height of around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm)

Origins of Gouda

Gouda is named after the Dutch city of Gouda, in a region with ideal conditions for dairy farming. It dates back at least to the 12th century, as medieval Dutch farmers developed methods for preserving excess milk.

Gouda’s market square became the centre of the cheese trade which is how the cheese got its name. In the early 1300s, the (still functioning) Gouda Cheese Guild (“Vroedschap van de Kaas”) was formed to regulate the trade, and the world famous “Gouda Cheese Weighing House” was established to weigh and stamp cheese with official marks of quality.

By the 17th century, Gouda cheese had become a sought-after delicacy in markets across Europe. As Holland entered the Dutch Golden Age as a global innovator in trade and commerce, Gouda travelled with it.

A note on how Gouda is made

Gouda has a unique make technique, called washing the curd. It removes some of the whey and replaces it with fresh water. For complicated metabolic reasons the cheese proteins then break down into flavours unique to gouda. These flavours are initially dormant, but as it ages you experience tastes not seen in any other cheeses.

Tasting notes for Gouda

Tasting Notes for Aged Gouda:

  1. Body and Texture: Gouda is a heavy bodied cheese. firm and dense texture with no cracks or fissures. They may be a small number of spherical holes (“eyes”). It often has a crystalline crunch, a hallmark of well-aged cheeses.
  2. Tastes: Gouda characteristically features sweetness often as caramel, fudge or butterscotch. It will have notable umami (savoury) and light salty notes. Acidity will be low: it may develop complex and interesting bitter notes as it ages
  3. Dairy Flavours: Cooked milk, creamy, buttery
  4. Other Flavours: Gouda exhibits unique notes of cooked, preserved, dried or fermented sugars, fruits, spices, leaves and fruit
    • Caramel: Prominent caramel, and sometimes fudge, toffee or butterscotch
    • Spices: Warm spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg
    • Earthy: Some varieties of aged Gouda may exhibit earthy undertones, akin to dried dry cellar, mushrooms or truffles
    • Fruitiness: fruity often fermented fruit tones like cider, dried fruits like raisons, apricots or dates, or fermented grape like wine or sherry notes.
    • Leaf: dried leaf, such as tobacco or chestnut

Gouda’s sweet base and complexity at age makes it a popular cheese amongst families and connoisseurs alike.

Flavouring Gouda

Gouda has been flavoured for centuries. Gouda with Cumin is the most common. Dating back 400 years, it is a combination of Holland’s pastures and the Dutch’s global seafaring in search of spices.

More recently cheesemakers have experimented with flavouring gouda to give more character to younger, sweeter cheeses. Combinations that work well include:

  • Garden herbs: Oregano, marjoram, rosemary, chives
  • Heat: Chilli, paprika
  • Spices: Mustard seed, cumin

Coming to America:

Dutch immigrants played the significant role in introducing Gouda cheese to the United States. They brought with them their cheese-making skills and traditions, particularly in the regions of Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York.

Over the years, Gouda-style cheeses produced in the United States have diversified. While traditional aged Gouda is still popular, experimentations with flavours like herbs, fruits, and spices and smoking have led to a profusion of gouda options for consumers and driven its ongoing popularity.

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