Gouda cheese from Holland is probably the most famous Dutch cheese. The name refers to a round (wheel like) orange/yellowish cheese. However, gouda cheese doesn’t necessarily have to be a Dutch cheese, made of milk from Dutch cows. In fact, most Gouda cheese in your local supermarket was not made in Holland. Anyone can make its own Gouda cheese.
Gouda cheese Holland
Jong belegen Gouda cheese has matured for 8 weeks, 48+ means 48 percent fat in solids. Because so many cheese are now called “Dutch Gouda cheese”, a Dutch cheese makers organisation asked for legal protection of the name Gouda.
Since October 2010 cheeses labelled 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, that they were produced in a traditional manner and aged in the Netherlands.
Gouda cheese history
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 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.
Holland cheese farm
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.
Farm cheese vs factory cheese
The difference between cheese on cheese farms and industrial made cheese, is that the cheese from a farm is made of raw, fresh milk (max. one day old milk). At the factory the cheese is pasteurised first (heated to kill bacteria). Also, the amount of fat in the farmers cheese varies.
The quality and flavour of farmer cheese is very diverse and depends on the season, but generally it’s quite heavy and creamy. In spring, the cows go outside to graze on the fresh spring grass. The milk of these cows make into a particular 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’.
Dutch Cheese Amsterdam
So if you want to bring a real Dutch cheese home with you, you can either buy a cheese that says Gouda Holland or Edam Holland, or (better yet), find a real Boerenkaas on a one of the local markets in Amsterdam.
How Dutch 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 moulded in 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.
Why is it called Gouda cheese?
Remains one question to be answered: what’s up with the name Gouda? Well, Gouda is the name of a Dutch city where cheese has been sold for centuries. The cheese market in Gouda is still present once a week in the summer, mainly for tourists.