25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Emmental AOP Cheese
Emmental AOP The “King of Swiss Cheeses”
We’re all familiar with Emmental cheese – you know the one with the holes in it? In fact it is so well known it is often simply referred to in some English speaking countries as “Swiss Cheese”. However, Emmental AOP cheese as it is properly known, is a premium product, of outstanding quality and is strictly and continuously controlled by the Emmental Cheese Organisation in Switzerland.We recently went for a trip to the Emme Valley in the Canton of Bern which is traditionally where Emmental cheese is made, to find out all about it.
25 Facts about Emmental AOP Cheese
- The original recipe for Emmental cheese goes back to the 13th century – 1291 in fact!
- Emmental Cheese AOP can be produced in the Cantons of Aargau, Bern, Glarus, Lucerne, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Zug, Zurich, and parts of Canton Fribourg
- Swiss Emmental AOP Cheese comes in large circular rounds or “wheels” which have a diameter ranging between 80 and 100 cm
- They are heavy! Each individual Cheese weighs between 75 and 120 kgs
- The reason for their great size and weight dates back to a customs duty at the beginning of the century which was attributed per “piece” of cheese. The clever Swiss decided to make their cheese as large as possible and pay the duty only once
- It takes around 1,200 litres of natural unpasteurised milk (along with rennet, bacteria cultures and lots of expertise) to make a wheel of cheese weighing around 95 kgs.
- Emmental AOP cheese needs to mature for at least four months in selected cheese cellars – hardly any other Swiss cheese needs so long to ripen.
- Emmental AOP is made by experienced cheese masters in the traditional Emmental tradition from fresh untreated raw milk and is free from any additives or genetically modified organisms
- The cows have plenty of space to graze naturally and are fed on fresh grass and hay
- Emmental AOP is a very valuable source of protein, calcium and Vitamins A, D, B2 and B12.
- With only 0.5 grams of salt per 100 grams, Emmental AOP is extremely low in salt and is naturally lactose-free.
- Approximately 17,000 tonnes of Emmentaler AOP are produced each year in around 111 carefully selected Swiss cheese dairies
- Every single Emmental AOP cheese can be traced back to its origin and production location via its unique number
- During the ripening process the Emmental AOP cheese develops its unique taste and the holes are created as the cheese matures. Carbon dioxide is produced during the natural fermentation process, gathering in different places within the cheese and causing holes to form where it is unable to escape.
- Throughout the ripening process, the cheeses are regularly turned, groomed and checked. Only when the entire maturation process is complete, after at least four months, and after being thoroughly assessed, is the cheese ready.
- In some locations, like the one we visited, “Cheese Robots” are used to turn the cheese in the cellars.
- The longer an Emmental AOP is stored, the darker the rind becomes.
- Depending on the degree of ripeness, the cheese has a very different taste and the flavour develops from from nutty-mild to aromatic-strong.
- Mild Emmental AOP is matured for at least four months, mature Emmental for around eight months and fully mature Emmental for twelve months.
- The cave-aged Emmental AOP, the Emmental AOP Eidgenoss and the latest Emmental cheese, the Emmental AOP URTYP®, are additionally stored for a minimum of seven months in a wet cellar for the Affinage or “finishing”.
- Emmental AOP has a unique mild-nutty taste and can be used in recipes from Fondue to pasta dishes
- Emmental AOP cheese is sold all over Switzerland and throughout the whole world
- Emmental AOP is considered the king of cheese due to its size – it really is a piece of Switzerland!
- Emmentaler AOP is extremely popular in Switzerland and is the third most produced cheese after Gruyère AOP and mozzarella.
- Finally, on top of each Emmental AOP cheese you can find the quality AOP “Appellation d’Origine Protégée” seal on its label, along with its unique number.
Last two photos by Manuel Lopez / Emmentaler Switzerland
All other photos by Christina Fryer
For More Information on Emmental AOP
For more information visit the Emmental AOP website here.
You can also find a number of great Recipes Using Emmental AOP cheese here.
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