Swiss Cheese Buying Guide

Just about every kind of cheese enjoys some level of popularity, but Swiss cheese has a class of its own. In fact, Switzerland is about as known for its famous cheese as it is for chocolate and watches.

There’s actually a difference between the Swiss cheese that’s easily available in the global market and the cheese that’s made in Switzerland. Most American might think of Swiss cheese as not being that different from cheddar, only with a lot more holes in it. While this does sum up a common kind of Swiss cheese, it doesn’t even touch upon the rest of the Swiss varieties.

if you’re a cheese lover or simply interested in different types of food, it’s well worth knowing more about Swiss cheese. Fortunately, many of the delectable kinds of Swiss cheese are also available on the Amazon selling platform. After we take a look at how Swiss cheese is made, we may then look at the best option for this food available today.

The Name of Swiss Cheese

When it comes to North America, what people call Swiss cheese is usually Emmental. This is a somewhat hard, yellowish cheese that originated in Emmental, Switzerland. While this is definitely a Swiss case in name and origin, it’s definitely not the only one around.

Some Swiss cheese might have several holes in them, which is usually the perception by cheese laymen. These holes are also called ‘eyes’. If there’s any Swiss cheese without holes, it’s called a ‘blind’ cheese.

Some kinds of Swiss cheese are also dubbed Baby Swiss due to their being made outside of Switzerland. However, a cheese made in, say, Norway, might like still be considered a real Swiss cheese.

The Production of Swiss Cheese

The production of Swiss cheese varies from one type to the other.  For example, there are three kinds of bacteria that make up the processing methods of Emmental cheese. Once the cheese production progresses, the bacteria eat up the lactic acid and release gases such as carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is what forms bubbles that eventually form the eyes of the cheese.

With propionic acid and acetate, the Swiss cheese production process manages to give Emmental cheese that nutty, sweet flavor.

Swiss researchers have also hypothesized that the holes in the cheese were due to particulate matter as well as carbon dioxide With more modern and sanitary manufacturing processes, there is less debris in our cheese. Hence, the elimination of something like hay dust might actually help us to get cheese with fewer holes.

Historically, these holes are actually an imperfection and were avoided by traditional cheesemakers as much as possible. However, now these holes are part of the identity of Swiss cheese, even being portrayed as a mark of Swiss cheese in cartoons and the media.

There’s also a role of the cheese’s eyes in terms of determining the flavor and the experience. With larger eyes, we can be sure of a longer period of fermentation. This means that the flavor is more pronounced. Unfortunately, the larger eyes also make the cheese difficult to slice properly, especially using mechanical slicers. This is why you won’t find many cheese slices with large eyes.

For now, there are industry regulators that have limited the size of the eye. Only when they meet this standard does any kind of cheese receive a Grade A stamp for the market.

American Swiss Cheese

Back in 2014, the production of Swiss cheese within the United States was turned all the way up. They exceeded the number of 297 million pounds, which is only one marker of how well-loved this cheese is.

There are two main varieties of American Swiss cheese—Baby Swiss and Lacy Swiss. Both of these are mild options and have very small holes.  Let’s look at a couple of online offerings in order to understand the differences between the two. 

Baby Swiss

Baby Swiss cheese is made using whole milk and was developed just outside the Ohioan city of Charm by Guggisberg Cheese Company.

We can still get the Original Baby Swiss Cheese here:

Baby Swiss
Baby Swiss

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Baby Swiss cheese is a natural, semi-soft cheese option that’s full of flavor. Several cultures and a controlled environment with just the right amount of humidity is how they make this cheese. The result is a nutty, mild cheese with a smooth texture.

Lacy Swiss

As opposed to Baby Swiss, Lacy Swiss is made using low-fat milk. When it’s sliced, this cheese looks like pieces of lace due to its white or ivory color. The name is taken from this appearance. In taste, Lacy Swiss has a nuttier flavor than the Baby Swiss version, somewhat like a Monterey Jack cheese.

It’s also softer and melts better, so is of more use in cheese sauces and quiches.  Being lower in calories and sodium, it’s also a healthier option. The Shullsburg Creamery – Reduced Fat Lacey Swiss Cheese is one of the quality options available here:
Shullsburg Creamery - Reduced Fat Lacey Swiss Cheese - 5 Pound Loaf-jpegLacy Swiss

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The Naturlich Amish Lacy Swiss Cheese has those characteristic open holes that are spread all over the item. It’s actually a unique Amish product that’s made from whole milk. The flavor is still less salty though, and the texture is still softer than Baby Swiss

Other Swiss Cheeses

There are several other Swiss cheeses in the market, which vary from hard to soft, creamy to buttery, and are used in all sorts of dishes. We’ll discuss a few of these below:

Gruyère

Gruyère is a cheese that’s gone through a cave-aging process for around 300 days at least. It has a deep flavor, with caramel tones and a high level of minerality.  Gruyère is like Emmental but without those characteristic holes. One version of this is the igourmet Austrian Alps Gruyere, which is available online:

Gruyère
Gruyère

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The igourmet Austrian Alps Gruyere is made using quality milk and is full-flavored plus aromatic when released from its insulated packaging. Cubed, melted or sliced; this cheese has the potential to make a hit in both sandwiches and salads.

Tête de Moine

A wheel of this cheese usually requires a cheese curler to get those thin, edible, and delicate cheese flowers. The name of this cheese means ‘monk’s head’, named for the monk brotherhood that came up with this delicacy about 800 years ago.  You can check out some options online in order to get your own:

Tête de Moine
Tête de Moine

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The outside rind of this cheese is not meant for consuming. In fact, this gourmet cheese is creamy, strong-smelling, and quite sweet in flavor. Not everyone might like the flavor, but cheese connoisseurs will probably enjoy it.

Appenzeller

This is one of the spiciest flavors you can find in Switzerland, achieved through an herbal brine with a secret recipe. It also tastes fresh and pleasant, along with providing a hard texture. The recipe is a guarded one, and native to just 600 village dairies within Appenzellerland. Take a look at some of the best options online:

Appenzeller
Appenzeller

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This particular version is a hard cheese that hails from the Swiss Alps. They’re robust, pungent, and have a nutty flavor.

Emmentaler

We’ve talked a lot about Emmentaler, and this is because it resembles the traditional American concept of Swiss cheese the most. It’s actually the original offering that’s made the reputation of Swiss cheese as being with holes. The first cheese of this variety was invented about 8 centuries ago, in a city within a valley by Emme River. While the traditional size is around 200 pounds, we can also get a 1-pound option here:

Emmentaler
Emmentaler

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This cheese is aged inside cellars for about four months. It’s a nutty and acidic version that has a touch of herbs. You can use this in a tuna melt sub, on French onion soup, or a cheeseburger.

Raclette

Raclette
Raclette

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You might have seen those videos online that feature a chef melting one side of a whole wheel of cheese. That’s what is usually known as Raclette, a semi-hard cheese that you partially melt and then scrape off with a knife. Get your own here”

Vacherin

You can get the Vacherin cheese in the Fribourgeois or Mont d’Or. The former is a firm option, while the latter is soft, almost like Brie. The French Cheese Vacherin Clarine is a popular option that you can get here:

Vacherin
Vacherin

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This version is delivered in the traditional wooden box, which allows the cheese to ripen a bit more. The spruce band gives it a nice fragrance, which the surface is moist, golden, and with a tinge of red. Inside, the paste is spreadable and creamy.

Sbrinz

This is among the oldest of European cheese, with a very hard texture that resembles Parmesan. You can grate it over your pasta dishes of slice it up for an appetizer. There’s an offering by Artisanal Premium Cheese available here:

Sbrinz
Sbrinz

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Known as the “Father of Hard Cheeses”, Sbrinz has international legal protection. It’s made with raw whole milk, is available in 90-pound wheels, and is very much like Parmigiano Reggiano. The overall experience is that of a smooth, nutty cheese with relatively low sodium. 

Conclusion

After getting acquainted with an introduction to Swiss cheese, it’s worth getting to know about the wide variety available to us. This could enhance our experience of cheese, though we might have to visit Switzerland to get the full experience.