It’s a popular choice in quiches and dips and can be a great melting cheese. But it can also be spendy. So here’s how to store Gouda cheese so it stays fresh for longer.
Gouda cheese is both tasty and versatile. I love Gouda mixed into a melty mac & cheese, used on a colorful charcuterie board, or simply on its own. But it can have a relatively short shelf life once it’s opened.
In this post, I’ll reveal the best way to store Gouda. And I’ll let you know what types of Gouda will — and won’t — freeze well, in case you need to save some leftover cheese long term.
What is Gouda cheese?
Ask someone to name a Dutch cheese, and chances are Gouda will be among the first answers. Originating in the Netherlands perhaps as far back as the 12th century, Gouda is from the town of the same name.
This semi-hard type of cheese is made from cow’s milk and can vary in both color and taste, depending on how long it’s been aged. Young Gouda will be a pale yellow or off-white and will be smooth and creamy.
Gouda that’s been aged for at least 10 months is considered fully-aged. It will have a darker golden hue and feature a somewhat nutty flavor. It will also be both salty and sweet, with notes of caramel. In addition, the texture of the cheese will be harder and more crumbly.
And Gouda can be smoked. This type of cheese will feature a prominent sweet, smoky flavor and the consistency will be creamy and soft.
How do I find good quality Gouda?
Gouda isn’t just made in Holland. It’s now produced all over the world. And since the cheesemaking process for many types of Gouda isn’t specifically regulated or protected, the quality can vary.
If you’re looking for a traditional and typically higher-quality Dutch Gouda, check the label to see that it’s been made in the Netherlands. Also, look for the words “Boerenkaas,” “Gouda Holland,” or “Noord-Hollandse Gouda.” These are all only made in Holland and carry a protected designation.
Ways to use Gouda
Due to its soft, smooth texture and ability to melt well, younger Gouda works great in a wide range of dishes. Apart from mac & cheese, you can use it in soups to add extra flavor and texture. It also does the same for quiches and casseroles. Plus, it’s a tasty, gooey, richer option for grilled cheese sandwiches.
A slice of Gouda is also ideal for burgers. And shredded Gouda can even be used on pizzas in place of fresh mozzarella.
Harder, older Gouda has less moisture content so doesn’t melt very well. It’s best to use on things like charcuterie boards, grated over pasta, or simply on its own.
How to store Gouda
Store unopened Gouda in its original packaging and keep it refrigerated. The best place is in a crisper or vegetable drawer, as that can help shield it from direct exposure to the cold air in the refrigerator.
Once you open Gouda, wrap it in parchment paper, then store it in the fridge in an airtight container or resealable plastic sandwich bag or freezer bag. Or if you purchased it from a cheesemonger, you can rewrap it in the waxy cheese paper it may have come with. This will help keep the cheese from drying out and will better preserve its flavor.
How long does unopened Gouda cheese keep?
Most store-bought Gouda will be tightly wrapped (usually in plastic wrap) and have a best-by or expiration date on the label. So it’s best to consume it within that timeframe. In most cases, older, aged Gouda can be stored unopened for 1-2 months.
Fresh Gouda bought at a cheese counter or specialty cheese stores may simply be wrapped in cheese paper. It will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge if wrapped well.
How long will opened Gouda stay good for?
After you open it, the shelf life of Gouda cheese is about 2 weeks. This is when it will have its best flavor and texture. It may keep for a few days after that, but you also may notice some deterioration in taste and consistency.
However, if you notice any significant changes, like discoloration, moldy spots, or a slimy texture, the cheese has likely started to spoil. In these cases, your best option is to simply throw it out.
Can you freeze Gouda cheese?
Yes, you can freeze semi-soft cheeses like younger Gouda, however it may change the texture.
If the cheese is unopened, simply keep it in its original packaging and place it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Opened Gouda should be wrapped in parchment or wax paper and sealed in an airtight container. Then put it in the freezer. It can keep for up to 3 months.
Once you’re ready to eat it, first let it thaw for several hours in the fridge. Once defrosted, you may notice that the consistency is not as soft and creamy as fresh Gouda. In fact, it may be a bit crumbly, as freezing can remove moisture. That means it won’t be as pleasant to eat on its own. But it will still melt fairly well, so you can use it in dishes like mac & cheese or in soups or dips.
Aged cheeses will not freeze well as they do not have as much moisture. As a result, they will become overly crumbly when thawed. So it’s best to avoid storing aged Gouda in the freezer.
What are some substitutes for Gouda cheese?
If you don’t have any Gouda on hand or your local grocery store is out of stock, several other different cheeses can make good alternatives.
For a similar soft texture to younger Gouda, try Edam, Havarti, Monterey Jack, or white cheddar. All will go great in everything from grilled cheese to mac & cheese, as well as on a cheese board.
Good substitutes for older, harder Gouda cheese include Parmesan, Grana Padano, Asiago, and Pecorino.
In most cases, Gouda cheese will come with a wax outer rind. This should always be removed prior to eating the cheese. Gouda also will have a separate natural rind. It’s edible, but not that enjoyable, so you may want to cut this away as well. The one exception is smoked Gouda. It’s often eaten without removing the rind.
Most cheeses should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. After that, harmful bacterial growth can occur. That time can be even shorter if you live in a hot environment with high humidity. Softer cheeses may become slick or slimy, while hard or semi-hard cheeses can dry out and become crumbly. Even if you don’t notice any changes in texture or odor, if your Gouda has been sitting out for more than 2 hours, it’s a good idea to discard it.
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