Gouda is one of the oldest known cheeses still being produced today. It’s prized for its versatility and unique flavor profiles at each age. Soft and creamy. Crystalline and crunchy. Smoked or smooth and mild. The varieties and possibilities are endless. So which gouda is best?
Graskaas is a young cheese which takes only weeks to mature. Graskaas, or “grass cheese”, is made seasonally using cow’s milk from the first grazing of the year. It is very mild and the creamiest variety of Beemster gouda. Although Graskaas is created from an age-old recipe, you won’t find it just anywhere. This cheese is a Beemster exclusive and is only made once a year. When you try it, you’ll understand why it’s popular with cheese aficionados. Despite being aged for only one month, this cheese is full of subtle flavors and floral, grassy notes.
Goat Gouda offers a different flavor profile than traditional cow’s milk varieties. This cheese is aged at least four months in order to achieve sophisticated flavor notes while preserving a smooth texture. Be sure not to confuse goat gouda with a typical chevre cheese. This variety has a sweet taste, a semi-firm texture, and a clean finish. Many enthusiasts regard goat gouda as an excellent introduction to goat milk cheeses.
Classic Aged Gouda just can’t be beat. Unlike the milky pale color of goat gouda, a classically aged gouda boasts a warm golden hue. At first taste, this cheese delivers a mild nuttiness, balanced by a firm, smooth texture. Traditional gouda is aged on seasoned wood. This process exchanges the classic gouda flavor between the cheese and its environment over the length of the aging process. The longer the cheese is aged, the greater the intensity of flavor. Pair a classic gouda with nearly any fruit or bread and you’re sure to be delighted. Classic goudas can be used well beyond the cheeseboard. Try it on a sandwich or in a baked macaroni and cheese. It has a similar versatility to cheddar and is great for cooking soups and Tex-Mex dishes.
Extra Aged Goudas are truly something special. As a gouda matures, it develops a rich, savory flavor with notes of caramel or butterscotch. The cheese becomes hard, crumbly and has delicious little salty crystals throughout. Pair extra aged goudas with port wine and yeasty breads. Nuts and olives are equally delicious accompaniments. Try using extra aged goudas instead of crumbled parmesan in your favorite pasta dish.
For every gouda listed here, there are countless varieties in between. Adding time to the aging process, exposing it to different elements, and changing the percentage of milk fat are ways artisanal cheese makers craft the countless nuanced varieties of this extraordinary cheese. Whether soft or firm, pale or golden, mild or intensely smoky; there’s a gouda for every cheese lover. You won’t find another cheese with greater versatility and crowd-pleasing appeal.