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Gouda, from Dutch Goudse kaas "Cheese from Gouda") is an orange cheese made from cow's milk. The cheese is named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands, but its name is not protected. However, the European Commission has confirmed that "Gouda Holland" is to be protected (although "Gouda" itself is not).[1] Cheese under the name of Gouda is currently made and sold all around the world.


The cheese is from cultured milk that is heated until the curds separate from the whey. Some of the whey is then drained, and water is added. This is called "washing the curd", and creates a sweeter cheese, as the washing removes some of the lactic acid. About ten percent of the mixture are curds, which are pressed into circular moulds for several hours. These moulds are the essential reason behind its traditional, characteristic shape. The cheese is then soaked in a brine solution, which gives the cheese and its rind a distinctive taste. The cheese is dried for a couple of days before being coated to prevent it from drying out, then it is aged. Depending on age classification, it can be any time between a number of weeks to over seven years before it is ready to be eaten. As it ages, it develops a caramel sweetness and sometimes has a slight crunchiness from salt-like calcium lactate or tyrosine crystals[2] that form in older cheeses.


The term "Gouda" is now a universal name, and not restricted to cheese of Dutch origin.[3] The term "Noord-Hollandse Gouda" is registered in the EU as a Protected Geographical Status.[4] The cheese itself was originally developed in Gouda which is in the Dutch province South Holland.


Within the Netherlands itself, a number of varieties exist, based on additional ingredients, and age. From young to old, these are: "Graskaas", "Jong", "Jong belegen", "Belegen", "Extra belegen", "Oud" and "Overjarig". Younger cheeses are creamier; the older the cheese, the harder and saltier it gets.

Stinging nettle cheese, or "Brandnetelkaas" is a type of gouda that contains stinging nettles (Urtica dioica). The small, green particles give the cheese a distinct flavour and appearance. Another variety of gouda contains small pieces of red capsicum, imparting a mildly spicy flavour.

Exported Gouda has two varieties. The young Gouda cheese is aged between 1 and 6 months, rich yellow in color and with a red or yellow paraffin wax coating. This cheese is easily sliced with a cheese slicer. The older Gouda cheese has a pungent underlying bitterness, yet is still considerably creamier and sometimes discernible by a black paraffin wax coating. This strong tasting cheese is hard and often brittle.


  1. "European commission confirms protection for Gouda Holland". DutchNews.NL. 7 October 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010. 
  2. McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking. Scribner. p. 63. ISBN 978-0684800011.
  3. "Kwaliteit Goudse kaas brokkelt af" (in Dutch). (Brussels). Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  4. "Noord-Hollandse Gouda". Agriculture Quality Policy. European Commission. Archived from Noord-Hollandse the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2007-12-11.