Did you know that different types of Swiss cheese exist? Swiss cheese can have holes, such as the popular Emmentaler cheese, while others are “blind” or without eyes. Regardless, people love cheeses from Switzerland because of their varied flavors and textures.
If you would love to explore popular Swiss cheeses, this article is for you. But first, let’s have a quick recap on what makes cheese “Swiss” and a common misconception that a lot of people believe!
What are Swiss Cheeses?
Swiss cheeses actually refer to different varieties of cheese that are produced in Switzerland. The term “Swiss cheese” can be confusing to some since it’s often associated with the specific Swiss cheese Emmentaler, which is famous for its large holes due to bacteria added during the cheesemaking process.
The truth is that Switzerland makes over 450 kinds of cheese [*]. Besides Emmentaler, other examples include Sbrinz, Raclette du Valais, and Gruyère.
Like all cheeses worldwide, Swiss cheese variety types can be hard, soft, and semi-hard. You’ll also be surprised to know that in the history of cheese, the Swiss have been producing cheese since the Iron Age [*].
Types of Swiss Cheese
Check out this list of Swiss cheese options that are both tasty and healthy! Yes — each cheese is good for you because it’s a source of many important nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, potassium, and magnesium [*].
Emmentaler, also called “Emmenthal” or “Emmental” is a semi-hard cheese with a buttery to nutty flavor. As mentioned previously, it’s well-known for its big holes or “eyes” due to the carbon dioxide produced by Propionibacterium shermanii [*].
The name of this Swiss cheese comes from the Emme valley where it was first created probably about a hundred years ago.
This rich, creamy, and salty cheese originated in the Gruyère mountains in the 12th century when cow herders needed a survival staple. Eventually, this cheese was distributed throughout Italy and France.
Due to its taste, Gruyère is a wonderful accompaniment to a wide range of foods, including ham, salami, and pecan nuts.
If you’re in search of aromatic and flavorful cheeses from Switzerland, you can’t go wrong with Sbrinz. It’s a very hard cheese that can replace parmesan cheese in Swiss dishes. In fact, it is believed that Sbrinz is the oldest European cheese.
You can eat Sbrinz in small pieces or have it grated. Take note that the more mature the cheese, the more flavorful it is.
4. Raclette du Valais
This full-fat and semi-hard cheese is produced exclusively in the Canton of Valais, which is known for its tourism. It has an aging period of 3-6 months and each wheel has a diameter of 30 centimeters and weighs 5 kilograms.
As for the taste, Raclette cheese flavor may vary according to the area where cows graze. It may be slightly sweet, floral, nutty, fresh, and slightly tangy.
Appenzeller is a straw-colored cheese that’s spicy. You can find mild spicy to extra spicy appenzeller due to the herbal brine and rub added to the rind. It’s also interesting to note that this cheese has been produced for more than 700 years!
It’s great for both melting and grilling, and can even be enjoyed as part of a cheese platter that includes apple and pear slices.
6. Tête de Moine
Tête de Moine, which means monk’s head, has been named after the men who made this cheese in the Bellelay Abbey. It has a complex flavor with a sweet quality that makes it pair well with full-bodied wines and fruits (fresh or dried).
Since this Swiss cheese is produced from raw milk, strict quality requirements have been put in place to ensure that children and adults can safely eat it. Eat it as an appetizer or scrape it into thin shavings for your salad!
7. Vacherin Fribourgeois
Last but not least is Vacherin Fribourgeois, a semi-soft cheese that’s known for its stinky aroma and excellent melting ability. That said, you’ll be able to use it for grilled sandwiches. Its name may have been derived from vaccarinus, which is a latin word that means little cowherd.
Gourmets worldwide also use it in fondues. Also, feel free to pair Vacherin Fribourgeois with the following wines: Rioja, Piedmont, and Riesling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can’t get enough of the cheeses of Switzerland? Below are common questions and answers on the topic:
How many types of swiss cheeses are there?
There are more than 450 varieties of Swiss cheeses and nearly all of them come from cow’s milk. Sheep or goat milk cheese is uncommon in these cheeses.
What is the most popular swiss cheese?
Emmental cheese is the most popular among all Swiss cheeses worldwide. Many people are confused between Emmental and “Swiss cheese” in general. However, in Switzerland, Gruyère is more well-known.
What swiss cheese has the most flavor?
The answer is Appenzeller cheese due to its spiciness. Not only is it flavorful, but it’s high in protein and has no carbohydrates. Appenzeller is also lactose-free.
The Bottom Line
There’s just so much cheese in Switzerland. In fact, it’s part of their heritage. Hopefully, this guide has helped with your discovery of the most reputable Swiss cheeses like Emmental, Gruyère, and Tête de Moine.
We have other popular cheeses in our shop if you’d like to try them! At Käze, we turn real cheese into delicious, crunchy cheese bites for smarter snacking all week. Check out Cheddar Cheese, Gouda Cheese, Pepper Jack Cheese, and more in our collection.