Comprehensive Guide to Swiss Cheese
Switzerland has been producing soft, buttery, and hard melting cheeses since the 13th century. On average, Switzerland exports more than 28,000 tons of cheese to the world. SUISSEPIC is ready to tell you about three cheeses known worldwide – Appenzeller cheese, Sbrinz cheese, and Tête de Moine cheese.
Tête de Moine Cheese
The delicious Tête de Moine cheese is made from raw cow’s milk according to traditional recipe of the Jura Mountains. This cheese was first produced in the 12th century by monks at the Bellelay Abbey in the Bernese Jura Mountains. Originally called “Bellelay” cheese after the monastery where it was first produced, the monks paid their annual rent on various properties with cheese made in their abbey. As a result, the name of the cheese means “monk’s head”. Eventually, the cheese was renamed after the French Revolution.
Tête de Moine is a semi-hard cheese that has a slightly nutty and quite pungent flavor. Unlike other cheeses, this cheese is not cut with a knife. Instead, this cheese is served in an unusual manner –scraped with a special rotating cheese knife that is known as a girolle, or pirouette. This type of knife is used to make delicate rosettes. The traditional process of making this cheese is done using the same method as employed by the monks of the Bellelay Abbey. The cheese is aged for about three months on pine boards. Once aged, Tête de Moine cheese is ideal when served with toast, crackers, or fruit, as well as perfect as an appetizer or a dessert.
Sbrinz cheese is one of Switzerland’s supreme specialties, and is considered to be the Father of the Hard Cheeses. Made in Central Switzerland for hundreds of years, Sbrinz cheese is known as a spicy hard grating cheese, and is thought to be Europe’s oldest cheese dating back to 70 AD.
This particular cheese is made with first-class, whole raw milk, rennet, and salt from select valley and mountain dairies. The maturation process lasts for at least 18 months, producing a distinctive aroma that keeps for a long time. Sbrinz cheese also has a wonderful grainy, brittle texture, and a magnificent nutty and spicy flavor. This full-flavored grainy cheese is a delicious treat, and is often used as a substitute for Parmesan cheese in Swiss cuisine. The cheese is great for grating over pasta and other foods, and is also great as an appetizer. Try this Swiss mountain cheese as an alternative to your everyday hard grating cheese. You won’t regret it.
Appenzeller cheese is one of Switzerland’s gastronomic treasures. This cheese is exclusively manufactured in the Half-Cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, as well as in parts of the Cantons of St. Gallen and Thurgau. Appenzeller cheese is known for having a pleasant aroma, and is considered Switzerland’s spiciest cheese. The traditional recipe for making this particular type of cheese involves a mysterious composition of aromatic herbal brine that has been handed down from generation to generation for over 700 years. Even though this herbal brine is a closely guarded secret, this gives Appenzeller cheese a distinctive spicy taste.
Appenzeller cheese can also vary in smell and taste, from flowery to spicy and tangy (for older versions of cheese). Appenzeller Classic is ripened for about 3 to4 months. This hard cheese has tiny holes and a golden rind, and is recognizable for its strong smell and nutty/fruity flavor. Appenzeller cheese is often used as a topping for seasoned potatoes, salads, and pasta dishes, as well for the Swiss national dish, fondue.