Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Gouda Time With Suzanne McMinn!

Suzanne is actually becoming quite the little cheese maker!  Who knew?  When we first found her at her wonderful website- Chickens in the Road, we knew she was a mover and a shaker, but we couldn't have predicted that she would take to making cheese like a bee takes to honey!

This month she mastered Gouda with no trouble at all - it was so easy that there is really no excuse for you to use anymore.  (Well, except she has a cow and certainly that helps.  But then, you have that dairy right down the road ...)

Got Gouda?
By Suzanne McMinn

Got gouda? I do!

Gouda cheese originated in the medieval Dutch city by that name, but of course it’s made all over the world now. Except, until recently, in my kitchen. I was afraid of gouda. It’s made by the “washed curd” method, and I’m afraid of any new cheesemaking method, which is why I’m writing this series of cheese challenge posts for New England Cheesemaking. I have to fulfill my monthly challenge and meet my deadline! No time for fear! Or procrastination!

The washed curd method involves removing whey from the pot and replacing it with hot water. This “washes” the milk sugar, or lactose, from the curds, lowering the acidity level and producing a creamy, mild flavor to the cheese. The cheese is then soaked in a brine, air-dried, and waxed. (Traditionally-made gouda in Holland is not waxed, however. It’s sold with a natural rind. I want to try some natural rind cheeses…..)

I’m using my well worn copy of Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll from New England Cheesemaking as my guide. Let’s go! (And don’t miss the giveaway at the end!)

How to Make Gouda:


2 gallons whole milk
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter*
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
2 pounds salt (for brine)  May be cheese salt or any salt without additives.
1 gallon water (for brine)

*You can use regular mesophilic starter, but the special mesophilic starter designed specifically for soft ripened and fresh cheeses will give you more of the pronounced butter-like flavor you expect from a gouda.


1. Heat the milk to 90 degrees. Add the starter and mix well. Cover and allow the milk to ripen for 10 minutes.

2. Add diluted calcium chloride, if using. (If you have trouble with weak curds when using store-bought or home pasteurized milk, for a two gallon recipe add 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup cool water. Read more about using calcium chloride here.)

3. Add the diluted rennet and stir gently with an up-and-down motion for 1 minute. If using farm-fresh cow’s milk, top-stir 1 minute longer. Cover and let the milk set at 90 degrees for 1 hour, or until the curds give a clean break. Toward the end of the hour, start heating your pot of water for step 5.

4. Cut the curd into 1/2-inch cubes. Let them set for 10 minutes.

Curds are a beautiful thing.
5. Drain off one-third of the whey. I have no idea what one-third of the whey is as I pour off. I make my best guess at it.

Stirring continuously, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to raise the temperature of the curd to 92 degrees.
6. Let the curd settle again for 10 minutes. Drain off the whey to the level of the curd.

7. Once again, while stirring constantly, slowly add just enough 175 degree water to bring the temperature of the curd to 100 degrees. Keep the curd at 100 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring often to keep the curds from matting.

8. Allow the curds to set for 30 minutes.

9. Pour off remaining whey.

10. Quickly place the warm curds in a 2-pound cheese mold lined with cheesecloth, breaking them as little as possible. Press at 20 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.

11. Remove the cheese from the mold and gently peel away the cheesecloth. Turn over the cheese, re-dress it, and press at 40 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.

This is my new press.
It’s a spring-loaded press from New England Cheesemaking.
I really like not having to heft weights around anymore!

12. Repeat the process (turn over the cheese, re-dress it) but press at 50 pounds of pressure for 12-16 hours. Remove from the press. By the way, I keep one special piece of cheesecloth that I use for cheeses when going in the press for the final pressing stage. It’s a much smaller piece of cheesecloth, cut so that there’s very little excess material to clump and cause indentations on the top of the cheese during pressing.

I was so excited when I took this cheese out of the press. This is the best, smoothest pressed cheese I’ve ever made.
It’s a work of art! IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!!! But they can’t have it. It’s mine, mine, MINE.
13. Make a saturated brine solution by combining the salt and water in a noncorrosive (glass or stainless steel) container. Soak the cheese in the brine for 12 hours. I used an (unchipped) enamel bowl for my brine.
Flip the cheese in the brine occasionally. I also rested a spoon on top of the cheese to keep it under the surface.
14. Remove the cheese from the brine and pat dry. Refrigerate the brine solution for other recipes. Air-dry the cheese at 50 degrees for 3 weeks.

I’m still in the air-drying stage with my first gouda. I air-dry cheese on a cheese mat.
15. Wax the cheese.

16. Age it at 50 degrees for (at least) 3-4 months, turning it 3 or 4 times a week.

Yield: 2 pounds.

My experience: Gouda is an easy cheese! I’m afraid of washed curds no more! I’m thrilled with how my goudas have been coming out. I’ve made more since my first, which are in varying stages of air-drying, and I may even age one with a natural rind….. I’ll report back when my goudas have aged long enough to test! After my experience with letting one of my cheddars age six months before opening it, I am directing myself to let my cheeses age longer now. I’ll wait at least four months before breaking open one of my goudas.

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