2 Years of Farmhouse Aging: Boerenkaas Gouda
It’s true that time-travel hasn’t quite been perfected yet, but what’s amazing is how certain cheeses seem to function as little time machines. Our first featured cheese will transport you back in time to a day when mass-manufactured cheese was but a dream; a time when quality and craftsmanship were the only qualities driving the cheese market. What you’re about to taste is Gouda the way it was made 200 years ago! The cheese we shipped to you here is named Boerenkaas Gouda. Boerenkaas translates to “farmer’s cheese” and guarantees that this cheese is made by hand using very traditional methods on a farm in Holland. Boerenkaas Gouda is specially aged for about two years, but it can be found as old as five years! Compare this with factory Gouda, the kind you might find at your local store, which is sold at typically only three to six months of age. When you taste the difference, you’ll wonder how they could be considered the same cheese.
Gouda is a cow’s milk cheese named after the town of its origin, located just south of Amsterdam and southeast of The Hague. Although sold all around the world, only a small amount is actually made in or around the village of Gouda. The name Gouda is not protected; thus, Gouda cheese can legally come from anywhere—it needn’t even be from Holland. Most of the world eats Gouda made in large commercial factories, but fortunately there are still a very few dairy farms in Holland where this delectable, mouth-watering cheese is still made in the traditional way. You’ll taste the difference immediately!
Queen Isabella offered Gouda to Columbus
You might not be familiar with the Dutch reputation for producing great cheese. In fact, few countries can compete with the eclipsing reputations of France, Spain and Italy. But Dutch cheese has been enjoyed for over a millennium! The Dutch have produced cheeses since before 400 AD, and have exported cheeses since the Middle Ages. By the 15th century, they were producing and exporting cheese on a very large scale. To put things in historical perspective, Queen Isabella offered Gouda to Columbus in the last decade of the 1400s.
In his description of The Netherlands, published in 1567, an Italian named Guiccardini commented that Dutch cheese and butter were worth as much as all spices imported from Portugal. We’re not sure if this was his opinion or a statement of fact—either is quite conceivable—perhaps even more so upon tasting the Gouda we’ve sent you. Several cities in Holland still have Cheese Weigh-houses—wonderful sixteenth or seventeenth-century buildings where “weighmasters” used to inspect the cheeses offered at market. Even today, cheese markets are held weekly in many Dutch cities. Some are held just for the tourists (such as those at Alkmaar and Purmerend), but you can visit real cheese markets in Bodegraven, Woerden, and in Gouda, where a cheese market is in full swing each week during the summer, right in front of the old Weigh-house which dates back to 1668.
Aged Gouda is a traditional, creamy, hard cheese. The flavor is sweet, fruity and often quite nutty. As it ages, its flavor intensifies, becoming more complex. The aging makes the interior of the cheese a unique shade of gold and imparts a more intense caramelized flavor, a bit like brown sugar melted with butter. Smooth, sweet and mouthwateringly flavorful, you may even detect subtle hints of butterscotch. The texture, due to the longer aging, is harder than factory Gouda. Perhaps you’ll find it an interesting alternative to Parmesan. Serve it before dinner with slices of lightly buttered Jewish Rye, or radishes with Flor de Sal Sea Salt. It’s also great with fruit and wine
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