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Interesting thing I heard about super-aged Gouda

  • n

So my friend remembers a cheese from when she went to Wellesley. Maybe other hounds can help me out...

It was an aged Gouda. She says it was aged for something like three years. The most distinctive thing she can remember about the cheese is that it was incredibly buttery and has little sugar crystals in it. She doesn't know how or why the sugar crystals form, or if they're put in there by the cheese maker.

Anyone? This sounds incredibly interesting, and I'd never heard of anything like it. I took her to Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco and all they had was a Gouda that had been aged one year. Good, but not even close according to my friend.

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  1. Gouda is my Mom's fav cheese. When a relative or friend comes from Holland (where Mom is from) they always bring her some aged Gouda. I love it when she shares it and your friend is right, it is very, very creamy and does have some crystals in it. I don't think it's sugar, but comes from the long aging process. I have been lucky a few times and found a very good aged Gouda at T.J. but, they don't always carry it. I would think a fine cheese shop would also carry a long aged gouda or even a local cheese maker---and maybe even your local T.J.

    1. not sure if they have it, but try Artisan cheese - they sell on line - They age the cheeses they purchase - so not sure about the gouda, but I have had it in Europe and agree that the crystals aren't sugar but from the aging process. Rather like a good quality parmesan that also has the crystals.

      1. Whole Foods carries as does Trader Joes occasionally. You can also find it my local speciality foods shops. My husband is addicated. I like it but can eat more than a bite or two. Very rich.

        1. Hello noodles, you are talking about one of my favorite types of cheese. One example recently I've enjoyed, perhaps it didn't have the sugar crystallised, but it sure has a toffee character to it, flavor and texture. Great palate interplay pairing it with port. I purchased it at Farmstead cheese in Alameda in that nice marketplace on Park St.(the butcher there has a locker for dry-aging meats, if you're into that).
          I saw a 3 yr. old gouda--it was over $20/lb. so I passed-- just last week at a Mollie Stone's (San Mateo), so if you're near one in SF you might check them. cheers

          1. Aged gouda is one of the finest cheeses in the world. I don't think I've ever known anyone who didn't like it. The 3-year is great, but a 5-year, which has a drier and more crumbly texture and sharper flavor, is even better (if you can find it). A similar cheese from France is mimolette - but I prefer the gouda. Aged gouda will be coated in black wax vs. the red wax that's traditional for the basic gouda. The crystals are definitely not sugar - I believe they're calcium or some calcium compound that forms as the cheese ages.

            1. Interesting- i live in Wellesley and the Wellesley Cheese Shop is one of the best there is- it has been there for as long as we have lived here (35 years) so I bet that is where she had it. Yes, aged gouda, is sooo delicious. It has a granular texture but definitely not sugar. Next time I go to the cheese shop (which is often) I will ask for details about this cheese and will post.

              1. Amazon sells a 5-year old Gouda for $17/lb.

                Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...

                1. p
                  Professor Salt

                  If you're in SF, you may be able to find a local store that sells superaged gouda from Winchester Cheese Co. This is a So Cal artisan that makes farmhouse goudas in the traditional Dutch style.

                  They sell cheeses of varying age & sharpness, as well as flavored goudas. I like the superaged, cumin, and herbed garlic flavors.

                  Link: http://www.winchestercheese.com/

                  1. k
                    King of Northern Blvd.

                    I just bought an English Cheddar from TJ and I noticed said crystals in that as well..I was curious as to what they were, I am sure they are same thing..I hope!

                    1. I think the crystals are actually salt.

                      Any decent cheese store should carry an aged Gouda (and no, I don't consider Cowgirl to be a decent cheese store). It's often sold under different names(different producers?): Boerenkaas and Saenkanter are two. As moto mentioned, I satisfy my Saenkanter cravings at Farmstead Cheeses in the Alameda Marketplace.

                      Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        An expert told me it was salt. I love this cheese and get it as often as I can. Our local cheese shop keeps it, it's the owner's wife's favorite. AND a friend just brought me back a huge hunk from Amsterdam!

                      2. Alot of aged cheeses have crystals or some people call it a gritty texture.

                        It is one of two things - calcium lactate (cheddar) or tyrosine (parmesan, gouda). Those are just a few examples.

                        Anyway some gouda's get a butterscotch flavor as they age which is why your friend thought it was sugar.

                        Cheeseboard has some good aged cheddars. Of course you can taste there in addition to telling them you are looking for a butterscotch flavor. Others have given you some good brands to look for.

                        Here's a good link that talks about tyrosine.

                        It ends by saying ...

                        "There's one last good thing about those crunchy crystals. Tyrosine is a building block for serveral important brain chemicals--epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, all of which work to regulate mood. Deficiencies in tyrosine have been associated with depression [That's why the Italians are always so damned happy, eh? That and the wine.]"

                        Link: http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rworange

                          I'm writing this so some folks don't go out and buy tyrosine thinking it will make them happier, better or smarter.

                          Too little tyrosine is rare because it's in so many common foods: chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.

                          Too much tyrosine, though, in the form of tyramines, is quite common, causing severe headaches and migraines, and a hypertensive response similar to histamines.

                          Tyramines are found in some of our most flavorful foods -- anything aged or cured, for example -- and their effect is cumulative. Each person, also, has an individual threshold for tyramines. A little aged gouda might be fine for you, but combine that with a few glasses of red wine, salumi, and eggplant and the amount of tyramine may be too much for your body.

                          Migraine sufferers learn to avoid foods with tyramines, but those foods can cause a bad headache in anyone. There's been quite a bit written about tyramines on Chowhound.

                          What causes the rare deficiency in tyrosine is an inability to synthesize phenylalanine. Tyrosine is an enzyme that helps to release neurotransmitters, and also helps in creating thyroid hormones. But more is definitely not better, in spite of what those folks say who are trying to sell you tyrosine supplements.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Yes! Yes! Yes! From someone who has recently started watching tyramines in food because of complicated migraine syndrome!

                        2. I recently bought an aged Gouda from DiBruno Brothers in Philly, I think its ten years old but don't know the name under which they sell it. Incredibly concentrated, intense flavor, and yes it has crystals. A younger version. There is another aged gouda I like that is about 5 years old called Rembrandt.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ellen

                            In 2009 the Whole Foods chain in LA carries the line of goudas that Rembrandt is part of.
                            My favorite is Vincent, yes.

                          2. t
                            torta basilica

                            I, too, love this stuff & am always on a quests to find more. My Trader Joe's used to carry it, but, alas, no more. They carry another 6 month "aged" from WI, but it's not the same. If anyone spots some of the good stuff in Orange County, Ca, PLEASE let me know! I tried Cowgirl Creamery's & it was just nasty & very expensive. Tried the something Frog cheese shop in Orange & that wasn't the same either. Has anyone tried Amazon's or know of any mail order that's the real stuff - buttery & crystally & caramelly & wonderful & not the faux?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: torta basilica

                              Try iGourmet.com - looks like the Beemster X.O. is the one you want.

                              Link: http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/search...

                              1. re: Linda W.
                                torta basilica

                                Under the guise of necessary Chowhound research, I have ordered a pound of this & will report back. I tried to order Ewephoria (love that name!), but could not find where they shipped.

                                1. re: torta basilica

                                  Call the 800 number listed on the Cheese Shop's website (see my post) to order Ewephoria. They can easily ship it to you.

                                2. re: Linda W.

                                  Yep, I've had this from iGourmet and it sounds exactly as described above. Wait... or maybe it was their regular aged beemster, not their super-aged. Hmm. (Any post about igourmet prompts me to yell from the rafters about the Dorothea they have available. O.M.G. Fantastic.

                              2. Try Ewephoria! It's a wonderful, full-flavored extra-aged gouda made from Dutch sheep's milk and is aged about 1 1/2 years. It has those amino/mineral crystals that add even more tang. I get mine from The Cheese Shop in Carmel, and they also ship their cheeses. You might be able to find it at one of your better local cheese shops, as well. Enjoy...

                                Link: http://www.cheeseshopcarmel.com/chees...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Lauren J.

                                  I've had Ewephoria, and it is good, but not as great as 3 yr Gouda. I think you should call it a "Gouda style" cheese, since my cheese book says true Gouda is made from cow's milk.

                                  Many web sources say that the taste (and punny name) was invented especially for the American sweet tooth.

                                2. I'm surprised Cowgirl didn't have one, although they do tend to focus more on American cheeses. Try the 24th Street Cheese shop, either of the Pasta Shops in Berkeley, Cheeseboard, or Oakville Grocer. I've seen multi-year Gouda at each place.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nja
                                    torta basilica

                                    Please see my post below. They have it, but... it's not the crystally delicious stuff we all are searching for.

                                  2. There's no "sugar" crystals in aged Gouda. The crystals you see are lactic proteins and are a by product of aging. True aged Parm Reggiano is entirely those crystals.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jeffyd

                                      The crystals still might be considered "sugar" if you consider the various forms of sugar...glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose. Or maybe I just have my chemistry all wrong.

                                      1. re: Just Larry

                                        The crystals are usually calcium lactate, and less frequently tyrosine.

                                        The aged gouda I like is called Old Amsterdam. It's nutty, buttery, with lots of those lactate crystals. It has a slight caramel flavor; and I'm guessing the milk is slightly
                                        caramelized before it's made into cheese. Old Amsterdam is at Trader Joe's, but there are other more expensive ones.

                                      2. re: jeffyd

                                        MMMM I really enjoy it when I get a chunk of Reggiano full of those little bursts of flavor and texture.

                                      3. I eat a lot of dry, aged cheeses and see those crystals often. I take them as an indication that I have a cheese I'm going to like. Current favorite: Piave.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                          If you like Piave, there's an artisan cheese that is available is ome places called Lateria Sant'Andrea. It's got more depth of flavor than Piave (even the Extravecchio) and is made by a small caseria (Piave is made by a large industrial maker).

                                          1. re: jeffyd

                                            I'm in Berkeley. Where might I find Lateria Sant'Andrea? I struck out at my beloved Cheeseboard. Thanks for the tip.

                                            1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                              Hmmm ... it's going to be hard to say this without it looking like a plug, but since he mentioned it, I assume jeffyd carries it at his cheese shop: Farmstead Cheeses and Wines in Alameda.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                You might recall that I don't mind such posts as long as they come with full disclosure. jeffyd didn't plug anything but the cheese, so no disclosure necessary. I had two reasons to go to Alameda this weekend and now I have three. Wonder if he has some Philly-style sharp provolone?

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  reply to chocolatetartguy ....

                                                  Don't know about that specific type of provolone, but he has a great selection, especially considering it's a small store. When I was in there yesterday the selection of soft/washed rind cheeses was really tempting.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Despite a change in plans, I still found myself in Alameda Saturday and closer to the source to boot. I bought some Lateria Sant'Andrea and snacked on it Sat night. It was very good with a slight raw milk taste. I think I still like Piave best, but certainly wasn't sorry I tried Lateria Sant'Andrea. In fact, it was my most productive stop in Alameda that day. I also found out that there the Piave I've been buying at the Cheeseboard is a bit more aged than the one I sampled there there.

                                                    I hear you bought some too. What did you think?

                                            2. Try Rainbow Grocery at 1745 Folsom St in San Francisco. They have a 5 year old gouda that's cumbly, carmelly, and delicious. Sometimes they're sold out so you might call ahead and see if they'll tell you if it's in stock (415) 863-0620.

                                              1. OK, I had to just post and say - after reading this chain, I bought some aged Gouda from Whole Foods. MAN, it was so good! Thanks for the tips in buying them!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: virtualfrolic

                                                  Another convert! It's great travelling cheese, btw. You can keep it at room temp almost indefinitely, so it's great to throw in your bag for a plane trip or when you're going to be out all day.

                                                2. your sister probably had Old Amsterdam which is wrapped in a black casing.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: uman

                                                    I just found some 3 yr. Old Amsterdam at our local cheese shop.
                                                    It was much better than the usual supermarket Gouda (or maybe I
                                                    was just impressed by the price per pound!).

                                                  2. as far as the crystals go, I always thought they were calcium deposits.

                                                    1. Now that I have the aged gouda, what are the best ways to eat it, fully utilizing it's great flavor (other than eating it alone or with crackers). It seems like you're all gouda experts - so I figured you'd know off the bat! (I'm not much of a cheese person! You truly converted me, as previously, I would have never bought cheese like this!)

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: virtualfrolic

                                                        Well, as I said, if you want to maximize its flavor you should keep it at room temp -- I just leave it loosely wrapped in paper on the counter, but in a warmer climate probably on a pantry shelf would be best. The moisture content is so low it will keep for weeks like that, although in warm weather it may weep a little fat and start looking shiny.

                                                        I've mostly just eaten it plain, but it makes a great substitute for grated parmesan.

                                                        1. re: virtualfrolic

                                                          Melt it into a cream sauce for cauliflower.

                                                        2. crystals are not sugar--they are protein.

                                                          1. The crystals that form in aged gouda are actually protein crystals. You will some times find them also in aged Grana style cheeses. The three year Gouda was probably called Saenkanter, but there are other brands. I don't know, but assume some of the butterscotch flavor in these aged cheeses comes from the milk being heated higher than it is in the make process of other cheeses. I suspect that what happens is you set up an incipient carmelization of the milk sugars, that is completed by the enzymatic activity of the cheese as it ages.

                                                            1. I'm not a cheese expert but the best gouda I've ever had was definitely buttery... what you mentioned sounds on the right track.

                                                              I've had some that was downright buttery from Whole Foods even... I am no cheese expert and don't recall the name except that it was an extremely long one. I would expect others can steer you toward even more buttery cheeses.

                                                              1. My favourite Gouda is Thunder Oak Extra old Gouda from Thunder Bay, Ontario. For you Americans thats way up in North Western Ontario, Canada. It gets pretty cold there in the winter, but our igloos keep us sheltered til summer comes in August!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: haggisdragon

                                                                  Sounds great, checked website, they will apparently not ship to the US and A, Canada only. Damn. (I know exactly where Thunder Bay is, originally being from London, Ont., myself.)

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    Yeah! They're pretty small. Its hard to get the old stuff even in T-Bay!

                                                                2. Does anyone else find it poetic that, like its subject, this thread was cracked open and tasted after three years of aging? ;-)

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                      Poetic and lovely indeed BobB. . .

                                                                      Since I'm a relative newcomer to the CH boards, it allows me to read some interesting comments about my favorite cheese

                                                                    2. This is so funny to me learning about the crystals in my aged goudas. As I mentioned, I only found it about a year ago and became an instant fan. I never really shared with my hubby how much I was paying for...oops. Anyway, I have to laugh I find the crystals to be just wonderful and what I thought is that the cheese was turning so I hurry up and eat it.
                                                                      Doh, never could understand why every single hunk had them. Thank you fellow chowhounds for my continued education!

                                                                      1. I know this is like 7 years late, but I know what your friend is talking about exactly.

                                                                        It is BoerenKass Reserved. The longest aged gouda they carry at Wasik, a little cheeseshop in Wellesley. I just graduated from Wellesley and jeez that cheese is good.

                                                                        1. I'm new to the cheese board (didn't know it existed). This is probably a dumb comment, but let me ask: are you sure the crystals were sugar? When cheese is aged for a long time (say, beginning about year three), it develops crystals from the aging process.

                                                                          I like very sharp, very aged cheddar, and a lot of the old cheddars have crystals. I hate the crystals, which I think interferes with the cheese's texture, but I have to put up with them to get the super sharp, tangy flavor I seek.

                                                                          Anyway, maybe I am completely wrong on this. I do not pretend to much knowledge about cheese, but it was the first thing that came to mind when you mentioned "aged" gouda.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: gfr1111

                                                                            I think the crystals and butterscotch flavor of 5 year gouda are its best qualities. For its high price, I suggest you avoid it if you don't care for the crystals. They make its texture.

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              Me, too. I seek out cheeses with those "protein crystals," actually, tyrosine crystals. They're a sign of fine aging.


                                                                          2. Picobello gouda (young) is one of my favorite aged cheeses. It has the slight crunch mentioned in the OP--and a great flavor.

                                                                            1. I buy Glengarry extra aged gouda (with salt crystals) in Lancaster, ONTARIO, Canada. AWESOME stuff!