If you're a cheese lover, the Netherlands and France offer hundreds of dairy creations to tempt your taste buds. Among the many options you'll face are munster and gouda. Both cheeses provide a decadently creamy snack, but the differences between the two may lead you to favor one over the other.
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Locating the Cheeses
Gouda hails from the South Holland region of the Netherlands and is made primarily from cow's milk, but it can also be made from sheep's or goat's milk. It's produced in large wheels weighing up to 25 pounds that, when ripe, are divided for market or sold whole to cheese wholesalers. Munster comes from the French areas of Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comte. The French munster should not be confused with the American muenster, which is a processed cheese that makes an excellent addition to grilled cheese sandwiches.
Taking a Taste
Gouda may be eaten "young" or "old" depending on how long it has aged - anywhere from a few weeks to several years. The young cheese is mild and creamy and similar in texture to colby, another semihard cheese. The longer gouda ages, the harder and more flavorful it becomes. The older cheese develops a salty flavor somewhat reminiscent of Romano. Munster is a soft cheese made from cow's milk. The texture will remind you of brie, but the washed rind technique of making the cheese gives it a tangy flavor. Both gouda and munster can have herbs, spices and even wine added when they are made to change the cheeses' flavor. Gouda typically gives off little smell, but the scent of munster can be quite strong. This smell may appeal to some people but put off others.
Pairing the Cheeses
Whether young or old, gouda goes well with beer. If you are pairing gouda with wine, younger gouda goes best with sweeter or fruitier wines such as riesling while older gouda works well with full-bodied wines such as shiraz. Munster also tastes wonderful with beer, especially if the cheese has been flavored with cumin. When pairing munster with wine, you can choose from fruity selections like gewurztraminer or rich reds such as merlot.
Eating the Cheeses
Gouda is a versatile cheese that ranges in uses from snacks to dessert. The cheese accompanies apple and pear slices perfectly, pairs well with sweet desserts and nuts or can be used in soups, sauces or other recipes that call for cheese. If you are looking for a quick snack, munster is delicious spread over a piece of baguette or dark rye. The cheese also gives a tangy and creamy kick to baked or mashed potatoes.