A Buyer's Guide to Swiss Cheese

A Buyer's Guide to Swiss Cheese

We have created this guide to swiss cheese to help you enjoy all avenues of your purchase, including everything you need to know such as how it was made, how to keep it fresh and what best compliments swiss cheese. 

Read on to ensure you don’t go wrong with your swiss cheese. 


What is swiss cheese?

Swiss cheese is cheese that has been made from cow’s milk gathered from cows living in the alpine regions eating the luscious grass found there. 

Swiss cheese has also been coined by the North Americans which has multiple varieties, but all closely resemble emmental cheese which originated from Emmental, Switzerland. It is also known for the health benefits it can provide, with its lower sodium content whilst containing more phosphorus and vitamin B-12. 


What does swiss cheese taste like?

The overall taste of swiss cheese has a combination of sweet, nutty and mild taste. This makes it very similar to alpine cheeses such as emmental cheese. Swiss cheese is a pale yellow in colour and also has a complimenting nutty odour. 


Why does swiss cheese have holes?

During the production of swiss cheese, carbon dioxide bubbles form, which then lead to the cheese having holes when sliced. These holes are called eyes, and when a swiss cheese has no holes/eyes it is called a ‘blind’ cheese. 


How many types of swiss cheese are there?

In the alpine regions of Switzerland there are approximately 475 types of swiss/alpine cheese, the majority of which are made from cow's milk. The most common swiss cheeses enjoyed elsewhere are gruyère and emmental. Their sweet, mild and nutty taste proves irresistible to most. 

One of the most sought after Swiss cheeses is emmental. This cheese is one of a kind within the swiss cheese category and its appearance demonstrates this, having holes all over it. These holes are created through the bacteria strain ‘propionibacterium shermanii’. 

This bacteria doesn't just create the holes, it also gives the cheese its popular taste, that sweet, mild and nutty flavour. When searching for a great swiss cheese it is important to look at the holes, as the bigger the holes, the more intense the flavour. 

Appenzeler is another swiss cheese, this cheese is highly underrated. This cheese has no match and is a perfect cheese to have for breakfast. It is produced in a wonderful, peaceful village called Appenzell, where there are no cars and a rich culture. 

The taste gives you a slight spicy kick, which comes from letting the cheese curds age for three months whilst adding herbal brine. If the cheese is made with cider or wine during production, then it will produce a tangy taste, as well as being slightly spicy. 


How is swiss cheese made?

Swiss cheese uses cow’s milk, which is gathered from the cows of Switzerland. These cows live on top of the alpine mountains where the grass is very traditional as it is hard to plough or plant new seeds. Through the ‘Raus-program’, the cows are treated better, which leads to better tasting milk and therefore better tasting cheese. 

Once this cow's milk has been acquired then the curds can be created. These curds will then be soaked in brine, sometimes with some wine or cider.

During this process the bacteria respirate, causing them to release carbon dioxide, which over time causes bubbles or holes in the cheese to expand during the ageing process. 


How to store swiss cheese

To store your swiss cheese, it is best to wrap the cheese up in parchment or wax paper, which goes tightly around the cheese. Then, add a plastic wrap on top of that. 


How long does swiss cheese last?

The harder the cheese, the fresher it will stay for longer. As swiss cheeses generally tend to be harder cheese, it means that once opened it will last for around 3-4 weeks. 

To make your cheese last longer than this, put them in some sort of container or wrap them in parchment paper, wax or cheese paper. 

How to tell if swiss cheese is off

There are a few signs to look for when you may be worried that your swiss cheese has gone off. The first sign is that the texture has hardened a lot more than usual. 

Another sign is that the colour becomes duller or darker over time. If the swiss cheese is producing a horrible strong odour, then it will have gone bad. An easier sign to see is that mould has formed. As mould is a fungus, it means its roots and spores will be buried deep within the cheese, meaning it will be a risk even just to cut away the large amount of mould. 

If none of this is seen but the cheese has gone bad then it will still taste funny - it will give you a sour taste overall and a bad aftertaste. 


Swiss cheese pairings

As swiss cheese has a low salt content it can be paired perfectly with other goods that have a high salt content to make a perfect balance, such as some cured meats like saucisson or prosciutto. It can also be great to pair with certain alcoholic beverages. 


What beer pairs well with swiss cheese?

The taste of swiss cheese can be mild or robust. When the taste is mild it is best to be paired with a Dortmunder Export, a Dopplebock, ESB or even an Old Ale. When the taste of the swiss cheese is robust then to best match it would be a Bock, Gueuze, Helles or Oktoberfest. 


What wine pairs well with swiss cheese?

As the taste of swiss cheese is mainly nutty with a little sweet hint it goes perfectly with a sweet white. Some great choices would be a New Zealand sauvignon or a South African chenin blanc. 


What spirits pair well with swiss cheese?

Scotch whiskey is a perfect match. The smokey flavour of the whiskey enhances the sweet and nutty flavour of the swiss cheese. 


What accompaniments should I serve with swiss cheese?

A great way which Swiss cheese is enjoyed, especially during the colder months, is through fondue. This is a Swiss delicacy where the cheese is melted and certain food items are dipped in and covered in cheese. Some of these food items include bread, broccoli, potatoes, apples, peppers, chicken, steak and prawns.

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