History of Swiss Cheese

Swiss Cheese
Swiss Cheese

Of all of the cheeses we provide, our locally made Swiss is by far the most popular.  As of this writing, we sell an average of 2,000 pounds per week, and triple that during the holiday season.  Here is a story about the early history of what we call “Swiss Cheese.”  For additional information on locally Made Swiss Cheese, check out our earlier post entitled Swiss Cheese or “Swiss” Cheese? Or Making Cheese the Amish Way.

Swiss cheese is the favourite of many due to its rich, delicious, mouth watering taste. Every single slice of this cheese is visually stimulating and come with large holes. These unique holes are created by adding gram positive bacteria to the starter culture. The carbon dioxide bubbles created by bacteria give holes to Swiss cheese. The bacteria are also responsible for the sweet and nutty taste of this cheese.

Walk into any of the cheese stores in Australia, United States, New Zealand or Canada and ask for Swiss cheese and you will get exactly that. You cannot guarantee this anywhere else in the world. For example, if you wish to purchase this mild tasting cheese with holes in Europe, you must ask for Emmental cheese. Swiss just refers to the origin and is not its name.

Emmental or Swiss cheese was first manufactured in West Central region of Switzerland. This region is also known as the Emmental area. This area is ideal for pastures with its large rolling fields. Emmental’s pastures were used by local farmers for thousands of years for dairy cattle grazing. A part of the milk obtained from the cows was used to make cheese.

Very soon, cheese became synonymous with Emmental. This cheese’s incredible taste and unique appearance was popularized by a writer through his series of novels on the Emmental dairy and cheese industry.

According to history, it was as early as 1300 that the Swiss cheese started to be produced in Emmental. It was however only in the 1800s that the first ever cheese dairies came into existence here. This in turn made the cheese very popular even with people who did not live in this region.

Gradually many dairies were developed in Emmental which resulted in the production of cheese in large quantities. Swiss cheese was then marketed to other areas and eventually all over the world.

Today, Swiss cheese is available throughout the world but visit Emmental and taste the cheese and you cannot miss the extra local flavour. Dairy farmers in Emmental are extremely choosy about what they feed their cows as they realize that the diet affects the final flavour of the cheese.

Cows, when they can graze in summers, live only on herbs, especially natural herbs. They are never fed silage. No farmer in Emmental has more than twenty cows, which allow them to care for them in such a manner that they produce the best quality milk.

In addition to our locally made Swiss Cheese, we also have our local Emmentaler, made by the original old world recipe.

  1. Lawrence Aubrecht 01/04/2020 Reply

    According to my family history, my grandfather, Julius Felber, was part of a small group that in the 1890’s selected the cheese that became Switzerland’s cheese. Per one of his daughters, they were treated like royalty. Does anyone know anything about that?

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