Gouda Cheese is today regarded as one of the best cheeses in the world, and everyone can easily find it in their neighborhood store no matter where you live. The defining characteristics of this cheese are its yellow color, great aroma and taste of caramel sweetness that increases for cheeses that have aged longer. The Dutch cheese makers recognize six gradations of Gouda cheese that are based on cheese maturing age – from 4 weeks for young cheese to very old cheese that is aged for more than 12 months (some are aged even for 3 years!).
Recorded history of Gouda cheese started in distant 1184, making it the oldest cheese of modern mankind that is still in production using its original recipe. The name “Gouda cheese” was made because cheese makers from south of Holland gathered regularly in the city of Gouda where they traded their goods to the rest of Holland (the city itself is also remembered strongly because of its smoking pipes, 13 century elevation from town into City, famous 15th-century city hall and numerous historic churches). Cheese makers gathered in Gouda not only because it was a good trading point that attracted customers, but also because rulers of the city were granted monopoly trading rights on all cheese sales in the area. This law pushed creation of cheese making families and cheese guilds, who all tried to distinguish itself on the Gouda market by producing best cheeses they could. The most common cheese form was a large cake weighted to a bout 160kg, which was sold on the market and delivered to the homes of the purchasers by the cheese-porters. The cheeses themselves were almost always produced by women, but in the last 100 years most of the Gouda cheese production was moved to the industrial facilities.
Today, after more than 800 years on the market, Gouda cheese is still in part produced manually by cheese makers in Netherlands (counted to about 300 farmers that produce traditional “Boerenkaas” recipe from unpasteurized milk, aka Farmers Cheese). These cheeses are also still regularity presented for sale on the markets of the city Gouda each Thursday morning.
It is important to mention that cheese name “Gouda” is not protected under European or international law, but cheese names such as “Noord-Hollandse Gouda”, “Gouda Holland”, “Boerenkaas” are registered in the EU as having PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status.