Friday, November 30, 2012

How to make Gouda cheese - the recipe and a picture tutorial

If you like this tutorial and want to go deeper, I teach a self-paced online cheese making course, where people learn how to make Gouda, Cabra Al Vino, Chevre and Greek Yogurt).  If you want to learn more about that, click here!)

Or you can buy my Kindle book "How to make Gouda" for $4.99, which includes access to my helpful demonstration movie here.

You can also download the printable instructions for this recipe by clicking the button below.

What you need:
(the links are clickable for your convenience)

- 2 to 4 gallons of milk (either raw milk or pasteurized)

- Mesophilic MM 100 cheese culture

- Liquid rennet

- Calcium Chloride

- Cheese cloth

- Cheese mold or make your own 

- Cheese thermometer

Cheese press (or watch my youtube video on how to make your own)

- stainless steel pot, ladle, measuring spoon, knife

Some background:

I have said it before, and I will say it again: I think I have milk flowing through my veins instead of blood.  I grew up in Southern Germany, which is prime dairy country.  Imagine rolling hills, the Alps in the background, cows with giant cowbells mellowly grazing in lush, green pastures.  The smell of country air (to this day, I love the pungent smell of freshly manured fields).

Needless to say, I grew up with the best cheese, yogurt and milk made by local Bauern (farmers), sold at the weekly farmer's markets and little village stores.
In other words:  I am a cheese snob.  When one of my American friends first showed me Kraft cheese that sprays out of a can, I almost barfed.

However, I know that not every person likes factory cheese with food coloring, and that in fact, many people have discovered artisan cheeses.  Many small scale cheese makers have found their niches, catering to consumers' ever growing sophisticated appetite for high quality cheese.
This is great news for me, because many people want to learn how to make it!  Cheese, that is.  And since my little princess self has successfully made goat cheese for over ten years, I can impart this knowledge.

Enter my cheese making classes.  I teach one a month (or so), starting in May, when the baby goats are weaned, and the milk is flowing.  I taught my last Gouda cheese making class of the season a couple of weeks ago, and I want to share the process and some pictures with you.
First of all, this is what my students get to sample:  Chevre, Feta, Cheddar, Gouda, Manchego, and Tomme, all made by me (and my goats, of course).

Step-by-step directions:
(Short recipe with quantities is below)

So here is how you make Gouda cheese.  You start with nice fresh milk (each one of my goaties give me over a gallon every day).  At peak milking times, I have gotten as much as 3.5 gallons of milk a day.  Do you now understand why I have to make cheese?  I use raw milk, of course, but you can easily make cheese with pasteurized milk from the store (use calcium chloride).

First, add calcium chloride, then heat milk.  Add mesophilic culture.  I use freeze dried DVI (direct vat inoculated) cultures, because they are amazingly convenient and easy to use, and there are different kinds for different cheeses.

You let the milk sit quietly while you do the dishes, or home school your kids, or put laundry away.  Heck, you might even put your feet up and relax.

I let the milk "ripen" for 15 minutes (for other cheese, this takes an hour), and then I add rennet.  Rennet has enzymes that coagulate the milk.  It is extracted (dear vegetarians, please avert your eyes and ears) from the fourth stomach of a calf.  They make vegetarian rennet, but I don't like it at all.

Now the magic really starts!  The rennet is slowly going to thicken the milk, and it's important to cut the curds at the right time.  Too soon, and the curds are too soft, and if you wait too long, the curds are going to be too tough.  This is one of the handy things about taking my online cheese making course, so you can watch me demonstrate exactly when to do it, and how to tell when it's ready!

It usually takes my raw goat milk 25 minutes to get a "clean break", but it takes longer for pasteurized cow milk.  Here is what you are aiming for:

The recipe says to cut the curds the size of peas, so we are aiming for 1/4 inches. Here’s how you do it:

Insert your knife 1/4 inch from the side of the pot, then slowly draw the knife through the curd in a straight line. Be sure the knife reaches all the way down to the bottom, otherwise that part won’t get cut.

Then just keep cutting parallel to the first line you just made 1/4 inch apart from it, til you get to the other side of the pot. So now you basically have a pot full of 1/4 inch slices.

Next, turn the pot 90 degrees and repeat the process. Now you have a checkerboard pattern of 1/4-inch square curds.

Next, slant your knife at a 45 degree angle and cut the curds in lines 1/4 inch apart from each other.

Turn the pot again a quarter of a turn, and repeat the cutting.

Turn it yet again a quarter of a turn, and repeat the cutting.

This process is cutting the curds uniformly into small pieces. Time yourself during the whole cutting process: It is supposed to take ten minutes. Slow down...

Here are some of my students cutting the curd. It helps to look really serious when you do this.

Next, heat up the curds by adding hot water in a couple of steps. But first, drain 25% of the whey, which means you just take out a little bit of the liquid that has formed on top of the curd mass.

Add 140 degree water to the curds until they reach a temperature of 90 degrees. Add the water slowly so you don’t overheat everything.

While you add the water, stir the curds very gently the whole time, so they don’t stick together. You have to be gentle with goat curds, because they are very, very fragile, like a baby's bottom. Cut bigger curds while you stir, since you can’t get them all the same size the first time around.

Stir for 12 minutes. 

Drain the whey to half of the original (milk) starting volume, then add water of 140 degrees until the curd reaches a temperature of 95 degrees. 

Stir the curds for 10 minutes. GENTLY!

My little daughter likes to help stirring the curds
Soon, the curds will firm up, and then it's time to drain the whey.  I put it in buckets to feed the pigs, and besides, you do not want the whey to clog up your septic system!  Don't ask me how I know this.  All I can tell you that it involved several hundred dollars.

And now, you put the curds into some cheesecloth, put them in a cheese mold, and press the curds in a cheesepress, and they will turn into beautiful cheese.

Press at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes. Flip the cheese over and press at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes again.

If you want to make your own cheesepress, watch my youtube video on how to make your own, easy, inexpensive cheesepress.

After pressing, take the weight off, but leave the cheese in the mold until you are ready to put it in brine.

Put the cheese in the brine 12 hours after adding the culture. I usually make cheese in the morning, and then put it in the brain at night, before going to bed.

Leave the cheese in the refrigerated brine overnight. In the morning, take the cheese out and pat it dry with paper towels. Put it on a cookie sheet and a cheese mat to dry at room temperature. Turn it regularly so it gets a lot of air circulation. This process can take up to five days. If mold develops on the cheese, you are not keeping it dry enough, or there is too much humidity. Wipe off the mold and rub down with a salted rag.

When it's dry, either vacuum seal it or wax it (I go into lots of detail on how to do this in my book and in my online course).  Wait for at least two months to eat it.  Do not cut into it too early!  Sit on your hands, put duct tape over your mouth, hide the cheese somewhere so you will forget about it, do whatever it takes not to be impatient (You are talking to one of the most impatient people on the planet, so I know this from experience).  Cheese is much more flavorful when it's aged a bit, and you are supposed to wait at least two months before consuming it if you use raw milk to make it safe.

Most cheeses need relatively high humidity and a temperature range of 50-55 degrees F to age properly. Humidity should be no less than 75 percent and no greater than 95 percent. I accomplish this in our cellar, but a lot of people use a wine cooler turned up to its highest temperature, with a bowl of water in it to control humidity.

Here is the recipe I use:


- If using pasteurized milk, dilute in 1 cup cool water: 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride per gallon of milk, then start heating the milk

- In a stainless steel or enamel pot, warm 2 to 4 gallons of milk to 84 degrees

- Add ¼ teaspoon MM 100 culture for 2 to 4 gallons, add ½ teaspoon culture for more than 4 to 10 gallons

- Let sit for 15 minutes to ripen

- Add ½ teaspoon rennet diluted in ½ cup of water, stir thoroughly for 30 seconds for 2 to 4 gallons, add 1 teaspoon for more than 4 to 10 gallons

- Let milk sit (coagulate) for 25 minutes (or until you get a clean break when inserting your finger into the milk)

- Start heating water in a different big pot to 140 degrees to add to curds later

- Cut curd into small cubes (sizes of a pea) for 10 minutes

- Drain 25% of the whey

- Add water of 140 degrees until the curd reaches a temperature of 90 degrees

- Stir the curd gently for 12 minutes (cut bigger curds with a knife while stirring)

- Drain the whey to half of the original (milk) starting volume

- Add water of 140 degrees until the curd reaches a temperature of 95 degrees

- Stir the curds for 10 minutes

- Drain the curds and put into a mold in a cheese press at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes

- Flip the cheese over and press at 15 pounds of pressure for 30 minutes

- Take weight off mold, but leave cheese in mold until you are ready to put it in brine overnight

- 12 hours after adding culture, put cheese in brine in fridge (stir 2 pounds of cheese salt into one gallon water)

- Leave cheese in brine for 12 hours, then dry on cheese mat in a warm place for several days until cheese is dry

- Vacuum pack or cover with cheese wax, age at least 2 months before eating

Happy cheesemaking!  And remember: If you want to learn more, go more in-depth, and have me hold your hand step-by-step, then please participate in my self-paced online cheesemaking course where you get my e-books, my videos, and a private Facebook group.

Or purchase my Kindle book "How to make Gouda Cheese", which grants you access to my exclusive demonstration movie, showing all techniques in detail. Click here to buy it for $4.99.


  1. Awesome!! I was looking for a recipe for gouda after I found out how gouda is the 3rd highest source of Vit K2 known. Thank you so much for your beautiful tutorial and pics! I hope to make some of my own, soon.

    1. Thanks, Loretta! I'm glad you found this helpful! Good luck making cheese - the effort is so worth it!

  2. Thanks for this cheese tutorial! I am thrilled to be making cheese of my own! I was wondering what kinds of spices I could put in my Gouda to make it more like the traditional Gouda cheese in Holland?

  3. Joshua,
    In order to get the traditional Gouda flavor, you have to use the right culture (as specified in the recipe). Also, the washing of the curds with hot water produces the smooth Gouda flavor. You can add spices such as Caraway seeds before pressing.
    Good luck in your cheese making adventure!

  4. I found your recipe today and tried making Gouda for the first time! Thank you for well written instructions and pictures. Could you tell me at what temperature you store it, though?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Gabrielle - great question! Ideally, you should AGE your cheese (til it is dry to the touch) in a humidity- and temperature-controlled environment, so that the good bacteria you introduced by the starter culture can grow and produce the right amount of acidity to preserve your wheel of cheese. 46 degrees to 60 degrees is ideal, and a relative humidity of 75 to 95 percent is great.

      Then, you want to store it. You can either wax or vacuum pack it, or do fancy oil rubs. I vacuum pack it and store it in my crawl space. It should be spot where the temperature will stay at a constant 55 degrees, with a relative humidity of 65 to 85 percent.
      However........ I am not a perfectionist, and I can't control the temp and humidity in my crawl space under the house. In the winter the temperature sometimes gets on the low spectrum of ideal, but it stays pretty constant throughout the year. I have not a perfect cheese scene by any means, so if I can do it, YOU can! Happy cheese making!

  5. I am just getting started in cheese making and I am very excited about the simple cheeses I've made so far. I love this site and I'm wondering if I can use my raw Jersey milk in these cheese recipes?

    1. Absolutely, Kamie! Use your raw Jersey milk - I love Jersey milk! All the cheese I make is made with raw milk. It's better for you and tastes richer as well. Make sure you let the cheese age at least two months before eating it. Good luck and happy cheese making!

  6. I'm in Hawaii and am trying to figure out how I can age my cheese properly, I have 3 milking goats and have done all the fresh cheeses and want to expand to gouda. My home runs 70-80 degrees year round. Sometimes a little lower, sometimes higher. I can look for a lava tube, or talk to a neighbor that has one. That should be cooler, but the humidity will be higher. Any suggestion other than maybe getting a used mini fridge? lol

    1. Dayna,
      I think in your situation, I would get a mini fridge. With that amount of humidity, you will probably have mold problems.
      Or you could make a wheel of cheese and then see what happens, and if you get problems with mold, get the mini fridge.
      Did you know that I am teaching an online cheese making class that teaches how to do this, as well as teach how to make Chevre, Greek Yogurt, Gouda, and Cabra Al Vino (wine soaked cheese)? More info here:

  7. How can we "enrichen" our goat gouda cheese??? We buy what we believe is whole goat milk. Also, we don't seem to be able to produce a gouda that will melt. What are we doing wrong?? thank you, TB

  8. Replies
    1. Brine is made with salt and water: stir 2 pounds of cheese salt into one gallon water. The primary reason for salting cheese is to slow down or stop the bacteria process of converting lactose to lactic acid. During the brine process, most of the lactose is removed.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi Evelina,
    I know, it can get pretty confusing.
    Gouda is a semi soft cheese with more moisture than, say, a Cheddar, so it's pressed for shorter amounts of time, with less weight. If you press it with a heavier weight for longer, more moisture will be removed, and it will be drier and taste different. There are many recipes out there, and this one is a proven one that has worked for me for years. Good luck!

  11. I see. It's more clear to me now. I'm defenantly gonna try your recipe and am looking forward. Thank you.

  12. Love this recipe and the pics are great. I see that you have 2 moulds in the press. I would assume that this is for a 4 gallon recipe? I'm looking to experiment with just 2 gallons and would like to know the diameter of tomme/mould needed. Not many books/recipes indicate the required size tomme/mould (say 8",, 6" etc). Nor do they indicate a width x height of the finished product?

    1. Mina, this is the mold you are looking for:

      These are the dimensions:
      4-1/2'Wide x 5"High with follower and open bottom.
      This mold has a capacity of up to a 2 pound cheese from 2 gallons of milk.

      I make cheese with 10 gallons at a time, so that's why I stack my 5 pound molds on top. But for making a 2 gallon recipe, order the mold I listed above!

      Good luck!

  13. thanks!
    Just reading another recipe and for a 2 gallons of milk they say to use an 8" tomme?! Just worried about the cheese turning out to be a flat disc :)


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