Cheese of the month: Extra-Mature Cornish Gouda
History of Gouda
It might be one of the more popular cheeses in the world, but here in the UK, Gouda tends to get a bit of a bad rap. Possibly because it is often associated with the slightly rubbery and plastic-wrapped cheese that is widely available in the supermarket. However, when it’s done right, it is anything but ordinary.
Originating in the Netherlands in the 12th century, Gouda is one of the oldest known cheeses that is still being produced today. It takes its name from a city in the west of the country. Rather than being produced there, the cheese is believed to have been gifted to the city because of the large amount of trade that took place there.
Made from cow’s milk and aged anywhere between four months to three years, Gouda has a distinctive yellow or red rind. These rinds can be made from paraffin wax or by soaking the cheese in a brine solution before being matured. Some 300 farms in the Netherlands still produce the cheese using traditional methods. This is called “Boerenkaas” which translates to “farmer’s cheese”. It is made with unpasteurised milk and is protected by EU trade laws.
Gouda doesn’t have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, unlike Camembert de Normandie, Gorgonzola or Parmigiano Reggiano. This means it can be made anywhere in the world, which for my cheese of the month is most definitely a good thing.
Cornish Gouda Company
The Cornish Gouda Company is based on Talvan Farm in Looe, Cornwall. The business is very much a family affair. Husband and wife Joost and Annemarie Spierings relocated from their native Holland to Cornwall in 1998 to set up a dairy farm. Unfortunately by 2011 their business was on the brink of bankruptcy due to a sharp decline in the cost of milk in the UK. In a desperate effort to stop his parents going out business, son Giel joined them on the farm in 2012. At the age of 19 he established the cheese business using the traditional cheese making techniques he had learnt in Holland. He purchased the milk from his parents and set about creating the cheese that both his grandmothers had made.
The cheese comes from the farm’s herd of pedigree Friesian dairy cows that are all born and raised on the estate. The business is committed to sustainable farming methods and the cows are fed with crops that are grown on the farm, overseen by Giel’s brother Jan.
They produce three different types of Gouda at different ages:
- Semi-Mature Cornish Gouda – aged between 5-6 months
- Mature Cornish Gouda – aged between 10-12 months. This was awarded Best Hard Cheese at the Great British Cheese Awards 2016
- Extra-Mature Cornish Gouda – aged for 18 months+
The younger cheese starts out with a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. The longer the Gouda ages the drier it becomes in texture. Crystals also begin to form inside the cheese, which get bigger as the cheese matures, giving it a delicious crunch and a more intense flavour.
Key facts – Extra-Mature Cornish Gouda
|Matured for 18 months +
|Strength and style of cheese
|Crunchy, crystalline, nutty, creamy, salty, caramel
This is a really moreish cheese. Although it’s aged for over 18 months, it’s still very creamy with a slight milky aftertaste. The crystals give the cheese a really delicious crunch and texture. My guests were really impressed with the complexity of this cheese. On finding out it was Gouda they were shocked – “you hear Gouda and think it’s going to be boring but it’s anything but!”.
I paired this with Steeplechase Pale Ale from Round Corner Brewing. Based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, their range of craft beers picked up four golds, three silvers and a bronze at the 2021 European Beer Challenge. Steeplechase is a malty beer with tropical notes and was also awarded a gold medal and the trophy for the World’s Best Ale at the International Brewing Awards in 2021. Paired with the cheese it created a delicious herbal taste, with notes of thyme. The Gouda helped to bring out the hoppiness of the beer. This was a really perfect pairing.
If you’re looking for a different beer option, porters or stouts will work well with a Gouda as the rich cocoa or chocolate notes can stand up to the aged cheese. We also paired this with a Scottish stout from Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar and it brought out the salt and caramel flavours in the Gouda. For wines, you want something with a decent amount of body to match with the cheese – Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon would be a great choice or even an oaked Chardonnay or full-bodied Sancerre if you’re looking for white wine options.
The Gouda being created by Giel and his family is a shining example of how exceptional a cheese like this can be. Want my advice? Walk right past the pre-packaged piece of Gouda in the supermarket and seek out some of Giel and his family’s award-winning cheese. Think you know Gouda? Try this and you’ll think again.