Ah Swiss cheese, one of the most beloved cheeses in the entire world. Chances are good that you’ve seen (or eaten) a slice of Swiss cheese before at some point in your life, even if you don’t recognize the name. Swiss cheese has been around for centuries, and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down. So what makes Swiss cheese so special? Let’s take a look!
The Swiss cheese we’re most familiar with hails from Switzerland and is now also produced in countries all around the world, including the United States. The traditional Swiss cheese is made from cow’s milk and is named after the country of origin. In Switzerland, the cheese is known as Emmentaler and is one of the few cheeses in the world to meet the specific requirements of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Swiss cheese designation.
At first glance, Swiss cheese seems pretty straightforward - it’s a mild yellow cheese with lots of holes. But, as with many things in life, the name “Swiss cheese” is used to describe a much wider range of cheese than simply the traditional Swiss cheese. In general, any cheese that has holes and a mild flavor is often referred to as Swiss cheese, which is why you may have seen other types of cheese labeled as Swiss cheese.
Aside from the holes, Swiss cheese is most notable for its flavour. Among all cheeses, Swiss cheese has a unique nutty taste. It is a semi-hard cheese that is firm yet pliable, and it’s perfect for melting. In fact, Swiss cheese is a favorite of cheese lovers around the world because it melts so well, making it a key ingredient in dishes like quiche, fondue, casseroles, and more.
But the most stand-out trait of Swiss cheese is the signature holes or “eyes” that dot the surface. Les Gruyere, an AOC cheese variety of Swiss cheese, is named for these holes. Swiss cheese got its distinctive holes from a special cheese culture added to the milk during production that releases carbon dioxide gas. This gas creates bubbles in the cheese which eventually break down and form the eyes.
Today, more than 200 varieties of cheese around the world are classified as Swiss cheese, which can make selecting the right one a daunting task. If you’re a fan of the traditional Swiss cheese, aim for the AOC Swiss cheeses like Emmentaler AOC, Gruyere AOC, and Sbrinz AOC. However, if you’re looking for a milder and more affordable alternative to traditional Swiss cheese, you can also find many Swiss-style cheeses that are made with various types of milk, including soy and goat milk.
Whether you’re tantalizing your taste buds with a slice of Swiss cheese on a sandwich or using it to make a delicious dish, Swiss cheese is sure to please. Its delicious flavour, soft texture, and of course, its distinctive eyes, make it a beloved choice for cheese lovers from around the world. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up a pack of Swiss cheese and including it as a staple in your fridge!