|Country of origin||Netherlands|
|Source of milk||Cows|
|Texture||Semi-hard to Hard|
|Aging time||1-36 months|
Gouda (i// or i//; Dutch: [ˈɣʌu̯.da] ( ); Dutch: Goudse kaas [ˈɣʌu̯t.sə ˈkaːs] "Cheese from Gouda") is a Dutch yellow cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands, but its name is not protected. One of the most popular cheeses worldwide, the name is used today as a general term for a variety of similar cheese produced in the traditional Dutch manner as well as the Dutch original.
The first mention of Gouda cheese dates from 1184, making it one of the oldest recorded cheeses in the world still made today.
The cheese is named after the Dutch city of Gouda, not because it is produced in or near the city, but because it has historically been traded there. In the Middle Ages, Dutch cities could obtain certain feudal rights which gave them primacy or a total monopoly on certain goods. Within the County of Holland it was Gouda which acquired the sole right to have a market in which Hollandic farmers could sell their cheese. It was at Gouda that all the cheeses would be laid onto the market square to sell.
Teams consisting of the guild of cheese-porters, identified by differently colored straw hats, carried the farmers' cheese on barrows, which typically weighed about 160 kilograms. Buyers then sampled the cheeses and negotiated a price using a ritual system called handjeklap in which buyers and sellers clap each other's hands and shout prices. Once a price was agreed, the porters would carry the cheese to the weighing house and complete the sale. To this day farmers from the surrounding region gather in Gouda every Thursday morning between 10 am and 12:30 pm from June until August to have their cheese weighed, tasted and priced. Today, most Dutch Gouda is produced industrially. However, some 300 Dutch farmers still produce "Boerenkaas" ("Farmers cheese") which is a protected form of Gouda made in the traditional manner, using unpasteurized milk. Cheese making traditionally was a woman's task in Dutch culture, with farmers' wives passing their cheese making skills on to their daughters.
Gouda cheese is best described as a style of cheese making rather than a kind of cheese, as its taste depends almost completely on the time it has aged. After cultured milk is curdled, some of the whey is then drained and water is added. This is called "washing the curd", and creates a sweeter cheese, as the washing removes some of the lactose, resulting in a reduction of lactic acid produced. About ten percent of the mixture are curds, which are pressed into circular molds for several hours. These molds are the essential reason behind its traditional, characteristic shape. The cheese is then soaked in a brine solution, which gives the cheese and its rind a distinctive taste.
The cheese is dried for a few days before being coated with a yellow coating to prevent it from drying out, then it is aged, during which process the cheese changes from semi-hard to hard. Dutch cheese makers generally use six gradations to classify the cheese:
- Young cheese (4 weeks)
- Young matured (8-10 weeks)
- Matured (16-18 weeks)
- Extra matured (7-8 months)
- Old cheese (10-12 months)
- Very old cheese (12 months and more)
As it ages, it develops a caramel sweetness and has a slight crunchiness from cheese crystals, especially in older cheeses.
Young Gouda cheese is typically used on sandwiches, either cold or melted.
In the Netherlands, cubes of Gouda are often eaten as a snack served with Dutch mustard. Older varieties are sometimes topped with sugar or apple syrup. Cubes of old and very old Gouda are eaten alongside strong pale beers, such as Tripel, Dubbel, Trappist or with port wine.
The term "Gouda" is not restricted to cheese of Dutch origin. However, "Noord-Hollandse Gouda" and "Boerenkaas" are registered in the EU as having Protected Geographical Indication status. These cheeses can only be made in the Netherlands and can only use milk produced by Dutch cows.
- Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. 1989.
- Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
- "European commission confirms protection for Gouda Holland". DutchNews.NL. 7 October 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- "Geschichte des Käses". de:Centrale Marketing-Gesellschaft der deutschen Agrarwirtschaft mbH (CMA). Archived from the original on 2006-06-13.
- Alkmaar cheese market - Cheese Bargaining. kaasmarkt.nl; nl:Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer (VVV), NL.
- "Kwaliteit Goudse kaas brokkelt af". Nieuwsblad.be (in Dutch) (Brussels). Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- "Noord-Hollandse Gouda". Agriculture Quality Policy. European Commission. Archived from Noord-Hollandse the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- "COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1122/2010 of 2 December 2010 - entering a designation in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications (Gouda Holland (PGI))". Official Journal of the European Union.
- "Gouda Holland, Edam Holland to get protected status". DutchNews.nl. 2010-09-14. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
- "Dutch cheeses Edam Holland and Gouda Holland granted protected status | Press release". Government.nl. 2010-10-08. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
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