Featured Cheese: Emmentaler

Emmentaler cheese is a cheese from Switzerland. It is sometimes known as Swiss cheese in North America, Australia and New Zealand. Not all Swiss cheese is Emmentaler. Emmentaler cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern. You will see it referred to as Emmental, Emmenthal or Emmenthaler… all refer to the same cheese.

Unlike Parmigiano-Reggiano, the name Emmentaler is not protected, so it can be produced outside of Switzerland and still called Emmentaler. Emmentaler from other orgins is widely available, especially France, Bavaria and Finland.

Emmentaler is a yellow, medium hard cheese with large holes. It has a distinctive flavor but is not sharp. The “original Emmentaler” has to be aged for a minimum of 4 months. It is produced in a round shape with a natural rind and aged in traditional cellars.

Just as aging varied with Parmigiano-Reggiano, aging times can be different with Emmentaler. Classic Emmentaler is aged for 4 months, reserve is aged for 8 months and Premier Cru is aged for 14 months.

Emmentaler is produced from fresh untreated raw cow milk and adding only natural ingredients… water, common salt, natural starters (selected bacteria) and rennet. Additives, preservatives, genetically-modified organisms, silage or animal meal as feedstuffs are not allowed.

According to Wikipedia, “Swiss cheese not made in Switzerland tastes considerably different, primarily because the raw milk to make the cheese should not be transported long distances, as the vibrations homogenize the milk, and thereby change the outcome.”

In the United States, Swiss cheese is a standard cheese used in sandwiches. When purchasing Swiss cheese at the deli counter, the customer is often asked, “domestic or imported”, the choices offering different taste and price., and imported may mean from origins other than Switzerland.

Emmentaler is used in cooking, it is included in gratin recipes and fondue, where it is blended with Gruyere cheese.

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