Does Gouda Melt?

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Gouda is a world-famous cheese that is known for its multitude of uses and its supple and chewy texture.

But can you melt it just like mozzarella or other types of “spreadable” cheese? I mean, that’s just an important question all cheese lovers need answered!

Does gouda melt? Yes, gouda can melt. Gouda has a neutral pH which means that the protein structures in it aren’t tightly bound. This is what allows gouda to melt. Younger gouda can melt at temperatures of around 130°F but aged gouda may not spread as much as its younger counterpart. 

Read below to learn more about how to melt gouda, what makes it spread, and the changes in its flavor and texture once it is melted! 

All About Gouda

Gouda cheese has been a part of the European diet since the 14th century. This cheese originates from the Netherlands. It was named after the market where it was famously sold in abundance. 

Made from cow’s milk, gouda provides a very balanced and almost sweet flavor with an incredibly soft yet lightly chewy texture. It can be paired with several dishes but can also be enjoyed on its own with a range of sides. 

To understand why and how gouda melts, we must first start with the basics of this delicious cheese.

How Is Gouda Made?

Gouda cheese is either made in artisanal, small-scale cheese factories or an industrial setting.

The process begins with fresh cow’s milk that is mixed with rennet, an enzyme that separates the whey and the milk solids. 

The milk is left to curdle and is then slowly mixed. The process of mixing causes the milk solids to collect at the bottom while the whey remains on top. 

This excess whey is drained off and the leftover milk solids are “washed” with warm water. This process is also known as washing the curd. It’s what gives gouda its amazing flavor and spread-ability. 

When the curds are washed with water, this removes most of the lactose in the cheese, which bacteria need to create acid. 

What does acidity have to do with melting gouda cheese? Everything!

The Science Behind Melting Gouda

Here’s a quick refresher: the more acidic cheese is, the less likely it is to melt. This is because in an acidic environment, protein structures stick together like a ball of tightly wrapped rubber bands. 

No matter how much heat you apply, you will only end up burning the cheese rather than loosening the protein strands. What a waste!

In the case of gouda, since this cheese is washed and is rid of excess lactose, it is less acidic.

There is a pH “sweet spot” or a golden zone where cheese becomes easier to melt. If the pH of the cheese is around 5 to 5.5, then you can generally assume it is a melting cheese!

In the case of gouda, this cheese falls between 5 to 5.4 – which puts it right in the golden zone! Mozzarella is another low-acid cheese, with a pH of 4.7 to 5.3, that melts great.

Another benefit of having a low-acid cheese is its impact on the overall flavor, which in the case of gouda, is sweeter than other types of cow’s milk cheeses! Let’s discuss the two main types and the varying flavors of gouda cheese below. 

Aged Vs. Fresh/Young Gouda

Gouda is generally available in two types.

You can either find fresh gouda that has a texture similar to soft cheese or you can go for an aged gouda that will have a semi-soft structure and a more pronounced flavor. 

As far as melting goes, you are better off using fresh gouda as a melting cheese rather than aged gouda.

It turns out that aged gouda is usually eaten on its own or paired with several sides. It still retains its ability to melt but will not fully spread like fresh gouda.

The reason for this is more than just moisture. Gouda is aged for several months and during that time, not only does it lose moisture, but it also goes through molecular changes. 

Ripening enzymes “attack” the proteins in the cheese which changes their structure. This eventually interferes with the cheese’s ability to melt.

Young gouda, on the other hand, is prime for melting because of its high moisture and fat content and relatively stable microstructure. 

Flavor Differences 

Fresh and melted gouda may taste different, depending on how long you cook it.

In the case of fresh gouda, you can slice it and eat it on its own or with crackers and bread. The flavor of fresh gouda, as already discussed, is sweet, milky, creamy, and distinctly cheesy. 

When you melt it in the oven, the proteins in the gouda will give way and the cheese will being to spread with the help of moisture and fat.

As the temperature reaches 130°F, all of the cheese will have melted and the excess moisture in the gouda will start to evaporate. 

Once enough moisture has evaporated, the cheese will then start to brown – and this is where the flavor differences will come in. 

Melted gouda will have varying tastes during each stage of the melting process.

For example, melted (but not browned) gouda will have more or less the same flavor as room temperature gouda but you may prominently taste a layer of richness due to the fat content of the cheese.

Browned gouda will retain its distinct characteristics but will also take on a delicious caramelized flavor. The browned parts will have a highly developed texture and a pronounced cheesy flavor due to the loss of moisture.   

In the context of aged gouda, you will get way more prominent flavors than fresh gouda. The spread-ability of this type of cheese may not be that great but you can still get it to become slightly gooey and pliable. 

Aged, melted gouda will have the same prominent flavor but with the addition of a deeper layer of richness thanks to caramelization. 

How To Melt Gouda

By now, you will know that melting gouda is fairly easy. But it takes more than just heat to melt this cheese properly. 

There are a few best practices that you will need to follow to get the most out of melting gouda. 

Here are detailed steps on melting gouda the right way:

  1. Always start with room temperature gouda and set the oven to preheat as per the recipe (275°F- 350°F).
    This step is crucial in getting all the flavors and textures from fresh gouda. Melting frozen or cold cheese is time-consuming and cause your cheese to melt unevenly. On the other hand, a cold oven will dry out the cheese before it fully melts and reaches the right temperature and color.
  2. Grate the gouda or cut it into thin slices. Gouda cheese shavings are the default choice when it comes to melting and spreading this cheese. This also makes it easier to spread the cheese over food as a topping and can help evenly distribute it over a surface. 
    Thin slices work well too, especially if you are using them with toasted bread. Uniformity is key. Always cut equally thin slices so that the cheese thoroughly melts. Thicker slices may melt and brown from the top but will remain “raw” underneath. 
  3. Add the cheese into the oven and let it cook for about 25-30 minutes or as indicated in the recipe. Please keep an eye on the cheese around the 25-minute mark. Once the moisture in the cheese has evaporated, it will brown fairly quickly.

Remove when done and enjoy freshly melted gouda! 

Note: The best method for melting gouda is to use an oven. While you can even melt gouda using a microwave, blow torch, or even a pan, the oven method is by far the most efficient and effective way to melt and brown this cheese.

Related Questions 

Gouda is an excellent and great-tasting melting cheese that has a wide range of culinary applications. Now that you know all about how to melt it, here are some related questions! 

Does Melting Gouda Affect Its Shelf-Life?

No. If anything, gouda cheese may have a slightly better shelf life after melting due to the lessened moisture.

For the best results, we recommend storing melted gouda in the fridge at 40°F. Consume the cheese within 2-3 days to get the most out of its flavor and amazing texture. 

Is Gouda A Good Melting Cheese For Sauces?

Yes. Due to its higher moisture and fat content, along with its low acidity, gouda cheese can melt beautifully in sauces. It can even replace cheddar in several sauces because cheddar doesn’t melt as easily as gouda. 

Does Gouda Become Oily After Spreading?

No. Some cheeses, like cheddar, are prone to collect puddles of oil after melting. This happens when the proteins and fats in the cheese get knocked off due to excess heat.

In the case of gouda, this process doesn’t happen as prominently due to the presence of starch and the unique molecular structure of the cheese.

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