Unusual Eats: Black Swamp Gouda Reserve
The original mission for this week wasn’t particularly unusual. The intent was just to check out some Ohio-made cheeses loosely assembled in the refrigerator section at Weiland’s. A house recommendation called Black Swamp Gouda fairly jumped into the cart. It seemed seasonally appropriate, given that the swampy summer weather is now upon us.
But this was no ordinary wedge of Black Swamp Gouda. The chosen cheese happened to be a “reserve” wedge, which means it was aged for a long time. Not months, like most cheeses, but years, two years to be specific. That’s more in line with the aging time for parmesan. In contrast, the non-reserve wedge is aged four to six months.
Black Swamp Gouda, in both regular and reserve versions, is made by Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, based in Defiance, Ohio. The farm is committed to ecologically regenerative farming practices and produces pretty much everything including beef, pork, chicken, eggs and (yes) cheese. All of its cheeses are made from raw milk produced by grass-fed cows.
The chosen cheese was named for the Great Black Swamp, which offers a little history lesson: The Great Black Swamp was a wetland that used to cover a big chunk of Ohio, including the area farmed by Canal Junction.
As for the sensory characteristics of the reserve cheese itself, it’s interesting. It’s not particularly creamy, as older cheeses tend to be drier, generally speaking. Black Swamp Reserve is something like a regular gouda, only with an amplifier, punching through with its clear and distinct pungent accent.
Beyond the Gouda scene, cheese fans can find a lot of other options to explore from Canal Junction. There’s a Charloe that’s won numerous awards and recognitions from the likes of the Good Food Awards and the American Cheese Society, a Lacey Auglaize that’s comparable to a Swiss cheese, and even a version of cheddar.
You can buy its meat and cheeses online through its website, canaljunctionfarm.com, or at local gourmet grocers.