Gruyere is a hard, semi-soft Swiss cheese that has been enjoyed around the world for centuries. Native to Switzerland, Gruyere cheese was first rumored to have originated in the town of Gruyere, located in the canton of Fribourg. There, it was exclusively produced using raw milk from cows grazing on the pastures of the Jura mountains. Of course, depending on the region of production and milk used, the flavor and texture of Gruyere cheese can vary.
In terms of flavor, Gruyere cheese can carry nutty, rich, and slightly sweet notes. When melted, Gruyere tends to have a rich creaminess and excellent melting ability. This makes it a popular choice for recipes such as macaroni and cheese, fondue and pizza. Not to mention, it’s an integral part of the ever-popular classic French dish, croque monsieur.
Gruyere cheese is aged for approximately 5 months and during this time forms an edible, yellow-brown rind. This rind sometimes has a hint of crystallization, and a slightly sharp, tangy bite along with a supple and dense texture. The interior of a properly aged Gruyere will range in color from a pale yellow to goldenbrown and should have a creamy, smooth texture. Young Gruyere will be pleasantly mild, while it will become more complex and robust when aged.
While many consider Gruyere to be a Swiss cheese, the country actually has over 100 cheeses with the Swiss, Jura, and Fribourg valleys all producing their own flavors, textures and styles. While each cheese is distinct, all Swiss cheese share some common features. These features include a white to pale yellow color, semi-firm texture, distinctive aroma and taste similar to that of fully ripened Swiss cheese.
Gruyere also offers a wide variety of uses for both savory and sweet dishes. Thanks to its meltability, it’s a great addition to any cheese platter, charcuterie plate and soups or salads. Gruyere is a great cheese to use in pastries, including quiches and tarts, or as a topping for French Onion Soup or Butternut Squash Soup. Grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and even grilled cheese tots all benefit from the addition of Gruyere.
When choosing Gruyere cheese, it’s best to opt for one that looks and smells fresh. One way to tell if the cheese is ripe is to press gently on the rind; it should not yield to your touch. Avoid any cheeses with tears, cracks or a broken interior, as these may indicate poor handling or incorrect storage.
Finally, as with most cheeses, Gruyere should be stored properly after opening. Wrapping it in wax paper, parchment paper, or cheese paper and then keeping it in an airtight container, will work best. Stored in this way, it can last up to three weeks.
Whether you decide to enjoy Gruyere at home or explore the great variety of uses it has in recipes and cooking, this classic Swiss cheese is sure to satisfy any cheese lover. With its unique flavor profile, excellent melting properties and versatility, Gruyere cheese is a must-have addition to any cheese lover’s kitchen!