Gouda Cheese from Holland is probably the most famous Dutch cheese. The name Gouda refers to a round (wheel-like) orange/yellowish cheese. Originally, the cheese was from the Dutch city of Gouda. Nowadays, only Gouda Cheese Holland is really from Holland.
What is Gouda Cheese?
The Gouda Cheese that is sold in supermarkets all over the world is not necessarily from Holland. Originally, it came from the Dutch city of Gouda. But nowadays, most Gouda cheese was not made in Holland but in factories all over the world.
What is Gouda Cheese Holland?
Because so many cheeses are called ‘Gouda Cheese’, Dutch cheese makers asked for legal protection of the name Gouda. Since October 2010 cheeses labeled Gouda Holland or Edam Holland (the name Holland has to be included) have official geographical protection.
This means you can be sure the cheese was made in Holland from the milk of Dutch cows. Also, these cheeses were produced in a traditional manner and aged in the Netherlands.
Where to buy Dutch Cheese in Amsterdam?
If you want to bring a real Dutch cheese home with you, the best place to buy cheese in Amsterdam is on a farmers’ market in Amsterdam. Here, you can taste the cheese before you buy it.
Never buy the small round cheeses in tourist cheese shops in Amsterdam. These don’t have the same quality as the big cheese.
Visiting a cheese market in Holland
Originally, the Dutch cheese was sold by the cheese farmers on a cheese market. In Gouda, Alkmaar, Woerden and several other Dutch towns, these traditional cheese markets are still held in summer. Though most of these markets are for only show, it’s really worthwhile to visit a cheese market in Holland.
The History of Gouda Holland Cheese
In pre-historical times, the first settlers in the area now known as the Netherlands were already making cheese, as archaeological finds proof. In the Middle Ages, the Dutch started to export their cheese. From the 17th century onwards, Holland is known to be a ‘cheese country’.
The Dutch Cows
The provinces along the coastal region (North and South Holland) and Friesland in the North are most suited for dairy farming because of their wet soil. The authentic Dutch cows are black and white and famous for their excellent milk production. Not only cheese is a famous Dutch export product; so are Dutch milk-producing cows.
A Cheese Farm in Holland
Producing cheese has always been a woman’s job, mastered by the farmer’s wife. On many farms in Holland, dutch cheese is still being made in the traditional style. This cheese is called ‘Boerenkaas’, (farmers cheese) and is a protected cheese.
Boerenkaas is made by hand. Many cheese farms are open to the public. It’s worthwhile to visit a Holland cheese farm to watch the procedures and often you can even make your own Dutch gouda cheese.
Boerenkaas vs Factory cheese
The difference between cheese from a cheese farm and cheese from a factory is industrial is that cheese from a farm is made of raw, fresh milk (max. one-day-old milk). At the factory, the cheese is pasteurized first (heated to kill bacteria). Also, the amount of fat in the farmer’s cheese varies.
The quality and flavor of farmer cheese is very diverse and depends on the season. But generally, Dutch Boerenkaas is heavy and creamy. In spring, the cows go outside to graze on the fresh spring grass. The milk of these cows makes into particularly fresh, mild and mellow cheese.
The arrival of the first spring cheese in June (the cheese has to ripen for 4 weeks first) is celebrated in typical cheese cities such as Alkmaar on what is known as ‘spring cheese day’.
How Gouda cheese is made
- The production of 1 kilo of Gouda cheese requires about ten liters of milk.
- A cow produces about 20 liters of milk per day.
- After pasteurisation, chemicals are added, for taste, storage and thickening.
- By stirring and heating the milk, it’s separated into whey (liquids) and solids (curds). The whey is then draining, so a strong curd is left over. This will be our cheese.
- The cheese is placed in a mold so it gets its round form, extracting the liquid.
- After several hours, the cheese is immersed in a bath with salt water to make it firm and to add taste.
- Then, the cheese has to mature for at least 4 weeks.
- The longer the cheese is matured, the harder it becomes and the stronger the taste is. A very aged cheese can mature for over a year. Of course, the older the cheese is, the more expensive it is.
Other types of Dutch cheese
Apart from the basic Gouda and Edam cheese, there are cheeses with all kinds of added seeds and herbs. Examples are Leiden cheese with cumin seeds (komijnenkaas), Frisian cheese with cumin and cloves (Friese nagelkaas), goat’s and sheep’s cheese, smoked cheese (rookkaas) and cheese with herbs like mustard, onion, parsley, basil, nettle or pepper.
And let’s not forget the cheese with holes. The holes are caused by bacteria in the cheese. Most common are Maaslander or Leerdammer.