Monday, October 25, 2010

How Long to Age the Perfect Gouda

Gouda is a famous cheese that was first produced in Holland. Gouda cheese is a hard cheese that is very recognizable by its pale appearance and yellowish colored rind. The milk used to make Gouda cheese can either be part skim or whole milk. People who enjoy a cheese with mild, kind of nutty flavor will love the cheese. Even though Gouda cheese is a hard cheese, it has a creamy texture. Gouda cheese perfectly complements fruity flavored wines, beer, and ale.

Gouda is an excellent choice for appetizers platters. The cheese is perfect when it is paired with any type of fruit and tastes great when it is placed on crackers. Many people have found that they can use Gouda cheese instead of cheddar when they want to add a new twist to their traditional macaroni and cheese.

One of the questions that puzzled cheese producers is just how long they are suppose to age Gouda to give it the perfect flavor.

In some respects the aging process is one of the most vital parts of cheese production. It is the thing that transforms cheese from something that is barely edible into something we couldn't imagine living without. Before its in the aging process, the taste of salt completely overwhelms the Gouda cheeses natural flavor. In addition to being too salty, the unaged Gouda cheese has a rubbery texture that most people find repulsive.

Some people operate under the misapprehension that the aging process of cheese is unsupervised, that cheese is just left all over the place and allowed to do its own thing. This simply isn't the case. Not only is the aging process supervised, there are also certain conditions that have to be met. Cheese producers are very aware of health concerns and do everything they can to make sure that the cheese is safe for people to eat.

The purpose of the aging process is to allow the natural microbes and enzymes that exist in the cheese to do their job. The longer the microbes work, the more the flavor of the cheese changes. Some cheeses are fully aged within a few weeks and others age for years.

In the case of Gouda cheese the general consensus is that it can age from anywhere from a few weeks to a full year. The cheese lover’s personal taste is going to be what determines how long the Gouda cheese needs to age to be perfect. When the Gouda cheese is set aside and allowed to age for a long period of time it will have a very strong flavor which some people will love. However not everyone likes strong cheeses. This type of person will probably prefer the cheese when it has only been aged a few weeks.

You should already know if you prefer a strongly flavored cheese or if you are happier with the milder option. This means that before purchasing your next block of Gouda cheese, you should ask if the person selling the cheese happens to know how long it was aged. This will help you determine if you are going to be happy with your purchase or if you should try a different flavor.

-Written by Lilly Babineau

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