Gouda refers to a style of cheesemaking rather than to a specific kind of cheese. After cultured milk is curdled, some of the whey is then drained and water is added. This is called "washing the curd", and creates a sweeter cheese, as the washing removes some of the lactose, resulting in a reduction of lactic acid produced.The curds are pressed into circular molds for several hours, giving the cheese its traditional, characteristic shape. The cheese is then soaked in a brine solution, which gives the cheese and its rind a distinctive taste.
Goudas can vary greatly with age; young Gouda is moist and very mild, while more mature Goudas may become quite brittle and have much stronger flavours. As it ages, it develops a caramel sweetness and has a slight crunchiness from cheese crystals, especially in older cheeses.