Happy Cheese Makers Since 1978

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A Cheese from the North Country

The common expectation for this cheese is a very mild creamy cheese coated in colorful wax. However, the truth is that it can be a quite remarkable cheese as it is made in "Noord" Holland as a "Boerenkaas" (literally a barn cheese) or as a well aged version with a caramel color and texture similar to a Parma.

Gouda originated in the south of Holland in the town of the same name but is today produced by many countries around the world. The only name protection is "Noord-Hollandse Gouda" which is registered in the EU as a Protected Geographical Status. The north is currently the premium pasture land reclaimed from the sea and producing exceptional milk for this cheese.

In addition to the young, farm, and aged versions this cheese can be varied with smoke and spice additions such as nettle, pepper, mustard, clove, cumin, caraway, mixed spices and fenugreek. Today we also find some washed with beer and (although not a traditional Gouda) made with propionic cultures to create a sweeter cheese with holes similar to an Alpine cheese.

A similar cheese to Gouda is the Edam cheese made in Holland. It is made quite like the Gouda but with a lower fat milk.

The distinguishing characteristic of Gouda cheese is that it is a relatively sweet cheese. This is accomplished by removing some of the milk sugars early in the process to keep excess acid from being produced by the bacteria culture. Shortly after the milk has formed a curd and been cut, about 1/3 of the whey is removed and replaced with hot water to heat the curd.

The reason for this goes back to the days of the wooden vats in which the cheese was made. These vats could not be heated so hot water was added to increase the temperature of the curds and release more whey from the curds.

Making the Cheese:

Choosing the milk:
Begin with 6 gallons of whole full fat milk. This can either be pasteurized milk or raw milk. If using raw milk the milk must be of highest quality because The low acid of this cheese will not protect against late fermentation from unwanted bacteria during aging. In Holland a nitrate is added but not allowed here in the US.

Acidifying and heating the milk:
Heat the milk to 86F
Add 1/2 tsp MM100 culture and ripen for 30 min.

Coagulation with rennet:
Add 2 tsp (10 ml) single strength rennet. At 13 minutes the milk will begin to thicken but allow the curd to develop 40 min. from time of rennet addition or until a very firm curd develops.

Cutting curds and releasing the whey:
Check curd for firmness and then cut.
Note: with full fat milk I make a precut of the curds cutting crosswise about 1 inch squares and allow the curds to firm for about 2-3 min. before I continue my final cutting to 1/2 - 3/8 inch pieces in 5 minutes. This will help avoid losing more fat as you cut the curds smaller.

Now slowly and gently stir the curds for 15 min.

Remove 1/3 of the whey, then add water at 130 F over 15 min. for a final temp of 98-102. (Higher temp for drier longer aging cheese). This is a very important step since it also removes some of the lactose or milk sugars which can be converted to acid by the lactic bacteria.

1/3 of whey removed
adding hot water
The final temp

Continue stirring gently to keep from matting for 30 minutes or until final moisture is reached according to the desired aging requirements (longer stirring = drier curds = longer aging).

Forming the Cheese:
Mold filling is initially done under the whey to insure a tight curd mass with fewer mechanical holes.

Prepare molds and draining cloth and place into a pan large enough to retain whey.

Then pour free whey into the molds to warm them. Fill molds, allowing whey to rise 1-2” over top of curds.
Add the follower plus 6 lbs of weight on top (approx 1 lb. of weight per lb. of final cheese yield) then allow this to consolidate the curds for 15 min.

Filling the molds for pre-pressing
Pressing the curds
Ready for pre-press
3 quarts of water for each cheese yield the 6 lbs needed for the pre-press. After 15 minutes the curd is well consolidated and the forms can be removed from the whey and are ready for the final press.

Press Details

  1. Remove mold with curds from the whey and place in press with 9 lbs of weight for 30 min.
  2. Remove from press turn the cheese rewrap and press at 16 lbs. for 30 min.
  3. Remove from press turn the cheese rewrap and press at 25 lbs. for 30 min.
  4. Remove from press turn the cheese rewrap and press at 25 lbs. for 6-8 hrs. (For drier long aging cheese this can be increased to 50 lbs and pressed overnight).
  5. Remove weight and cloth and allow the cheese to rest overnight in mold at 50F.
I use a simple weight of a gallon of water to yield about 8+ lbs for the initial weight and a 25 block of granite for my final weight.
This will yield enough pressure to consolidate the curds for the finished cheese

Next morning place the cheese in saturated brine for 18 - 24hrs (3-4 hrs per lb. of final yield).

Remove from brine
Wax or prepare natural rinds when cheese is dry to touch (3-7 days).

Traditionally the Boerenkaas was a natural rind cheese. The barns were cleaned out in the spring when the cows went on pasture for the summer and the cheese was aged on shelves where the cows had been. The rinds were simply kept clean by brushing and turning on a regular basis.

For aging requirements targets are 56-64F ... 80-85% RH
Some small internal holes may develop during aging. The higher the temperature during drying and aging, the greater chances for the eye development.
The cheese will be ripe in 60 days to 6 months. For drier cheeses 12 months to 4+ years.

Time Line for the Gouda process

Step Time

Elapsed Time

Add culture

0 min.

Ripen milk

30 min.

30 min.


40 min.

70 min.

Cut Curds

5 min.

75 min.

Cook Curds

15 min.

1h 30m


30 min.


Press Under Whey

15 min.

2h 15m


8-10 hr.

2h 30m

Remove from press and dry overnight

10-12 hr.



How to make this cheese in a smaller 2 lb. size:
All of our cheese recipes can be modified to increase or decrease the batch size by increasing/decreasing the recipe ingredients proportionately.
Below is a modified recipe for making a 2 gallon batch of the cheese above.
This recipe will make 2+ lbs of Gouda.
Begin with 2 gallons of milk and heat to 86F. If using pasteurized milk add 1/2 teaspoon of calcium chloride to improve the final curd firmness.
Then add 1 pack of C101 culture and allow to sit quietly at this temp for 30 minutes.
Add 1/2 tsp of rennet or 1/2 rennet tablet diluted in 1/4 cup of water. Stir for 30 seconds and then allow the milk to set quietly for 40 minutes while keeping the temperature at 86F
At this point, a firm curd will have formed and you can follow the instructions beginning with the section "Cutting curds and releasing the whey:" above.

When it comes to forming the cheese, we suggest using our cheese mold M3. This mold has a smaller diameter and the weights should be reduced by 1/2 of the above recommendation.

On the lighter side:
This video will show you how NOT to make Gouda

Hearing about your wonderful cheese making adventures always brightens up our day. Please feel free to send us stories and maybe even a photo to:

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