What Makes Gouda a Gouda ?
Gouda: from the Netherlands to England, Ireland and beyond…
Gouda (or “How-da”) is a Dutch staple that has been produced in the Netherlands since the 12th century; making it one of the oldest surviving types of cheese in the world. Made from cow’s milk, Gouda is typically mild and creamy, however its expansion across Europe has given it some regional varieties. From the late Middle Ages, Gouda dominated the Netherlands cheese trade. Gouda has become the cheese of the Dutch as well as made it’s synonymous city a popular tourist and cheese trading destination.
Traditionally made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, Gouda was coated in a yellow wax to prevent it from drying out during maturation.The process begins by pouring fresh milk into a large vat. The milk can be either pasteurised or unpasteurised. However, in the Netherlands, there are still many traditional producers who made Gouda the ‘old-fashioned’ way called ‘Boerenkaas’, which is protected under EU law. Natural bacteria and rennet are then added to coagulate the milk and form the curd, when firm, the curd is separated and placed in a mould. The cheeses have the curd washed, removing acidity, which has given them a unique style and taste – slightly sweet & nutty.
The cheese obtains its characteristic density from being compressed by weights. When the cheese is ready for brining, salt from the brine slows down any unwanted bacterial activity and promotes the iconic Gouda flavour. Gouda can spend anywhere from 4 weeks to over 12 months maturing, resulting in vastly different outcomes. This gives varieties such as the six month semi-mature Cornish Gouda to the 3+ years of the vintage variety.
When accumulating all the different variations of Gouda, this cheese now accounts for 50 to 60% of global cheese consumption. Yet, the name Gouda is not protected, so there are many varieties of this cheese that may not completely align with what Dutch Gouda used to be. Nonetheless, this cheese has made a name for itself in many fashions and has become a house favourite with us at Two Belly. From the hard and crumbly Cornish Gouda to soft and silky Killeen, the Irish goat’s Gouda, there are many ways to enjoy this wax covered delightful cheese.
Gouda’s next stop, Ireland
Easily spotted on our counter by its Burnt orange-y yellow wax and green label, Coolea is our smooth, nutty Gouda made by a Dutch couple in Ireland. This style of Gouda compliments a range of food and drink. Try with a rich Brown ale or for a sweet treat, a caramelly stout.
The story of Coolea began in 1979 when Helene and Dick Willems started making cheese from the milk produced on their small farm in the mountains of Coolea in West Cork. The name "Coolea Cheese" quickly spread, and after winning ‘the best Irish farmhouse cheese award’ Coolea became a farmhouse Gouda staple. Coolea is made from a very old Dutch Gouda recipe; using full cream pasteurised cow's milk, Coolea is ripened for a minimum of two months. Its texture is semi-hard to hard, and when matured up to 18 months its taste becomes sweet, almost like toffee!
Now to the coast of England: The Cornish Gouda Company
You may have seen this name on the wax covering of the caramel coloured vintage Gouda at our shop, or you may have heard it from Rick Stein's interview with the owner of the Cornish Gouda Co himself. The story of this cheese is one of passion, tradition and family.
The Spierings brought their family from Holland to a dairy farm in Cornwall in 1998, but after years of the milk market’s uncertainty, they were unsure about their farm’s future here. Their son Giel, made the suggestion to produce Gouda in their traditional Dutch way. A style of Gouda that they had not yet been seen in the UK. So to begin, Giel set off back to Holland to speak with some relatives involved in cheese making, after months of research, their first batch was made within a year. We can now enjoy this delicious, caramelly, nutty cheese whenever it is on our counter. Perfect for a cheeseboard, grated on top of pasta, or for an after dinner cheese dessert, the variety of Cornish Gouda has made a lasting impression.
Gouda is a cheese for all seasons, occasions and cheese boards! Its eye catching colour, long standing history, and the passion of each of its cheesemakers makes this a cheese that we can talk about and eat all day.