Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gouda: Regular, Double Cream, Sheep, Goat and Aged

I've previously done some blogs dealing with Gouda in general and particularly goat Gouda and sheep Gouda. Before going into a cheese focus recently, and trying some more unusual cheeses, one of my favorite cheeses had been regular Gouda. 
It is very mild, but still quite flavorful, and has a wonderful smooth flavor. Real comfort cheese. I could sit down and eat a block of it. I regularly take it on backpacking trips where it will keep for several days and offer some calories and good taste at a time when it is needed. Gouda, which originated in Gouda, Holland, is one of the most recognized and loved cheeses in the world. 
The Netherlands are the largest exporters of cheese in the world and Gouda is over 60% of the Dutch cheese production. As I've started to learn more about cheese, I've come to see how different kinds of milk (cow, sheep and goat) can greatly impact the taste and texture of cheese, as well as aging. So to experiment with that a little bit, I bought a bunch of different kinds of Gouda to eat at the same time and really get a comparison. I did this on my own, with Judy, and then tonight, with a group of eight people at our home (as well as some other cheeses). Everyone concurred with the above assessment of regular Gouda and the comment was made that it was "safe," as in a good cheese to use anytime which anyone would like. Regular Gouda is made from cow's milk. It is yellow and has a few tiny holes in it. 
The milk is cultured and heated until the curds separate from the whey. About ten percent of the mixture is curds which are pressed into circular molds for a few hours. The cheese is then soaked in a brine  solution which creates a rind and improves the taste. After the salt soaks in, the cheese is dried for a few days before receiving the wax coating. It ages for about four to six weeks. In the Netherlands, Gouda is made with a yellow wax (or paraffin) coating and Edam is made with a red wax coating. However, for export, all Gouda exported to the U.S. has a red wax coating. 
The wax coating keeps the Gouda from losing moisture, halting the aging process and preventing the formation of mold while it is shipped and stored. Then we tried double cream Gouda, which is made in Staphorst, eastern Holland, where locally it is called Room Kaas. 
It has a yellow wax rind, instead of the red. 
For double cream, the solid material has a butterfat content between 60% and 74% (the average cheese has a butterfat of 40% to 45%). However, because 50% to 70% of cheese is water, the actual fat content for the entire cheese is less than half of the butterfat content. To be called "triple cream," a cheese must have a butterfat content of at least 75%. I liked the double cream Gouda much more than the regular Gouda. It was a little softer, had a little stronger taste, with a bit more bite or catch to it. 
Judy felt it almost had a little of a cheddary taste to it. In our group of eight, it was universally liked. 
I found one on-line reviewer who said it tastes “rather like spreadable cream and only a little bit like cheese.” I disagree. We ate some cheeses at the same sitting that fit that description, such as Camembert, Brie, Saint Andre and Delice de Bourgogne, and the double cream Gouda was nowhere near the consistency of those cheeses. Next we had sheep Gouda. 
It was not as smooth as regular Gouda. 
It has a creamy white outside, but it did not seem to be the same kind of wax as on the other Goudas. 
It was drier, not creamy at all, had a much stronger taste and was more flavorful, a little pungent and tart. 
One in our group said it had a little of a sour, nutty taste and was harder. 
This comparison emphasizes to me how different sheep's milk is from cow's milk. Then we tried goat's milk Gouda. 
It has a pure white wax coating and the distinctive goat smell. 
It was smoother and creamier than sheep's milk Gouda and a stronger taste than cow with a very distinctive goat taste. 
Others in the group felt it had a stronger after-taste, a little more tang, one felt a little of a cheddar taste. One of my favorite cheeses. Not at this taste test, but a little previously, I had a Trader Joe’s Cave Aged Gouda 
made in Wisconsin and then aged at 53 degrees in sandstone caves in Faribault, Minnesota for nine months. 
During aging, the wheel is turned twice a week and moved to slightly warmer caves where it develops unique characteristics. 
Trader Joe's describes it as "more complex than most Goudas...It starts off firm and crumbly, with a nice saltiness, then quickly becomes creamy and nutty with a smooth finish.” 
I actually was not overly fond of this Gouda, and I am a Gouda fan. Given all of the above Gouda's, it would probably be my least favorite. Finally, the Gouda that several of our group thought was the best, or one of the best of all 26 cheeses we ate at our sitting: Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, 
coated in black wax. 
I found mixed times for how long it is aged, but it appears to be aged from 12 to 18 months. 
In 2010, it was named best Aged Gouda out of 39 entrants at the World Championship Cheese Contest. Unlike other long-aged cheeses, it slices easily, yet it has little bits of aging crystals which provide nice chewing texture and taste. It is stick to the mouth, deep tasting, a little bit sharp, a little creamy, a cheddar type feel. It tastes rich, like old money. This is complex tasting, amazingly textured cheese. Aged Gouda is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. It describes Gouda aged up to five and six years, hard as Parmigiano-Reggiano, and "packed with a powerful, complex flavor and calcium lactate crystals that make it almost crunchy when chewed." Given my love for Gouda, I'm going to have to be on the lookout for more aged Gouda!

1 comment:

  1. I hope you have tried the VSOP 2-year Gouda at Murray's - that said, the Beemster Reserve is awesome and the Old Amsterdam is next on my shopping list!!