Emmentaler and Gruyère Cheese in Switzerland
Cheese has long been a staple of the Swiss diet--a fact that's hardly surprising in a nation where, until recent times, dairy cows outnumbered bankers, foreign investors, and tourists. In The Swiss Cookbook, Nika Standen Hazelton writes:
Until the 1800s, most Swiss cheeses were relatively small, weighing no more than 10-12 pounds or about 5 kilograms. Then, as the Swiss cheesemaking industry developed modern manufacturing methods, it became practical to make huge wheels of cheese weighing 100 kilograms (220 lbs) or more. Today, a single wheel of Emmentaler for the export market may be worth US $2,500 by the time it's been sawn into blocks and sold by the slice at your local deli counter.
Two of the most popular Swiss hard cheeses are:
This pale yellow cheese is produced by some 1,600 dairies in the Emmental Valley of German-speaking Switzerland. It has a mild, nutty taste and is distinguished by large holes that are formed by pockets of gas during a fermentation that lasts anywhere from three to six months.
In his Cheese Primer, Steve Jenkins points out that, because the raw milk of Emmentaler is partially skimmed, the cheese is lower in fat than many other hard cheeses. It's also higher in quality than cheaper foreign versions. Says Jenkins:
Gruyère, Fondue, Related Web Links