My first introduction to Gouda was the industrial variety that the Dutch ship all over the world: beige-ish, wrapped in red paraffin and fairly pliant. Traveling in Greece when I was sixteen, we bought Gouda, salami and fresh bread almost every day, making a quick sandwich for lunch. I thought those sandwiches were delicious – I think part of it was the fact that I was generally ravenous when lunch time came around – but, part of it was also the mild creaminess of the cheese paired with the salami.
The Dutch produce large volumes of cheese and about 75% of it is shipped overseas. Although they aren’t quite the largest cheese-producing nation, because they export such a large percentage of their production, the Dutch are the world’s largest exporters of cheese. And, 60% of the cheese the Dutch produce is Gouda. Gouda and Edam are produced in essentially the same way but the fat content of their milks differ – Gouda is made with whole milk and Edam with partially skimmed milk. For both of these cheeses, a necessary part of the cheesemaking process is “washing” the curds. (more…)