Tom Blatchford is a self-described “Gouda guy.” At his creamery, Cool Cow Cheese in Owensville, Missouri, Blatchford makes five varieties of Gouda: young, aged, smoked, smoked red pepper and blue, a cross between Gouda and blue cheese. This month, he’s releasing a Gouda cross made with baby Swiss called Missouri Special, with an intense and rich flavor. (Altogether the creamery makes 16 varieties of cheese, including Cheddar, Havarti and Jersey Jack, a Monterey Jack cheese.)
Like all of Cool Cow’s cheeses, each Gouda variety starts with full-fat milk from Blatchford’s herd of Jersey cows. Blatchford, who graduated from the University of Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, doesn’t cut the fat content of the milk, which he says yields a silky texture and fuller flavor. The pasteurized milk is heated, and culture and rennet are added before the curds are cut and the whey is drained. The young Gouda only matures for a few weeks before being packaged and has a creamier, smoother texture, as opposed to the aged, which is a bit rougher and more rugged.
Intensity and purity of flavor are important to Blatchford for the flavored varieties of Gouda, as well. For the smoked red pepper variety, peppers are added when the whey is draining but not completely drained off, “and that allows the whey to neutralize the intense heat of the red pepper and yet get the flavor into the cheese,” Blatchford says. “We don’t kill the gentleness of Gouda with heat; we just try to augment the flavor.”
He says the key to making any great cheese is allowing the core taste and essence to shine. “A real Gouda person doesn’t cover up that basic Gouda flavor – you just work constantly to enhance it and tweak those notes a little bit,” Blatchford says. “I enjoy making Gouda and I just keep on playing with the flavor.” (Photo by Jonathan Gayman)
Cool Cow Cheese, 1613 Tschappler Road, Owensville, Missouri, 573.437.2699, coolcowcheese.com