Gouda is a Dutch-style cheese, typically made of cow's milk, that is named for the town of Gouda in the Netherlands, where this nutty, caramelly cheese was originally traded. The term "gouda" refers more to a style of cheesemaking than a specific type of cheese, as the flavor and texture of gouda changes significantly as the cheese ages.
In contrast to edam cheese, its compatriot, gouda is a washed-curd cheese. After the milk is curdled and some of the whey is removed, water is added to "wash the curd," producing a sweeter flavor by removing some of the lactose. The curds are pressed into circular molds for several hours before the cheese is soaked in a brine that gives gouda its distinctive flavor. After aging the cheese for a few days, the cheese is coated with wax or plastic and aged for four weeks to 12 months or more. As gouda ages, it becomes harder and develops a crystalline, slightly crunchy texture and a sweeter, nuttier and tangier flavor with more caramel undertones.