If there is one thing Switzerland is known for, it’s making clocks. If there is another thing it’s known for, it’s making some of the greatest cheese you can get your hands on. If you don’t love cheese, you clearly have terrible taste, so let’s take a deeper look at Switzerland and what makes the cheese in the country so good. We’ll also have a brief overview of 5 of the best, just to whet your appetite!
Why Is Swiss Cheese So Good?
The first thing to take note of is that the cheese created in Switzerland is not just known as some of the best in the world without being backed up by solid, scientific reasons. The first is that raw milk is used, otherwise known as unpasteurised milk. You might think that this is a gigantic no-no, since unpasteurised milk is, in fact, illegal in most of the world. But it isn’t as simple as that.
Pasteurisation is simply the process of heating up milk to a temperature that kills bacteria. This is done as a safety measure to ensure that the milk is safe to consume. However, this process also robs the milk of much of its natural flavours. Hence, in Switzerland milk is often left untreated; specifically the milk used in cheese. Plus, the hygiene practices in the country are so strict and so stringently followed, that pasteurisation isn’t even necessary.
The second reason that the cheese is so good is the cows themselves. Farmers specifically feed their cows naturally, allowing them to graze only on the healthiest grass. This, likewise, adds natural flavours to the milk. An added benefit is that the milk is also richer in conjugated linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which is a fancy way of saying that it’s better for your heart.
The Swiss Cheese Industry
So now that you’re thoroughly convinced about the quality of the cheese itself, let’s take a moment to talk about Swiss cheese makers. If it wasn’t already obvious, cheese in Switzerland is seen as an art unto itself, with farmers highly respected and revered for their skills. Not only that, farmers are also supported unquestioningly by the government. Subsidies are paid to farmers, ensuring that they can remain in their countryside locations and focus on nothing but making damn good cheese.
There are around 450 varieties of cheese made, and a total of 180,000 tons produced in a single year. In Switzerland you can find cheese just about everywhere you go, and whether you choose to buy your favourites at the supermarket and take them home, or spend some time at Auberge du Pommier sampling the cheese buffet, there is an abundance of the good stuff wherever you are. Some cheeses are of course more expensive than others, and if you enjoy casino games you can always put your winnings to good use and indulge in a truly special wheel or two!
The Cheese Train
We know you’re eager to hear about the 5 best cheeses in the country, but first let’s set the scene, for your mental pleasure. There is a famed train in Switzerland, referred to as the Train du Fromage, literally “The Cheese Train”. It travels between Montreux, or Zweisimmen, to Château-d’Oex.
On the journey, which is highlighted by rolling green countryside and various other picturesque scenery, cheese and wine is served to the passengers. Needless to say, those who can afford this incredible luxury should be doing so at their earliest convenience.
Feeling peckish yet? Let’s have a look at the best Swiss cheeses.
Top 5 Cheeses
As would be expected, the finest cheeses are also some of the most rare. Appenzeller is created in Appenzellerland, by only 60 specific dairies, and the recipe is a closely guarded secret. It is a spicy cheese, with wine, cider and spices being the only known ingredients. There is little surprise that this is widely regarded as the best cheese in the world.
Sbrinz is best described as a Swiss Parmesan, and is one of the oldest in Europe. It is a hard cheese, made only by 30 dairies in the whole of Switzerland. For best results, the cheese is aged for at least two full years before being sold.
- Kaltbach Gruyere
The lengths taken to create this cheese are extraordinary, requiring that it be aged in a specific cave, for at least 300 days. We’re not joking. The cheese is rich and earthy, with hints of caramel. Yes, you can also taste the minerals from the cave it spent 300 days in.
- Tête de Moine
Pungent and dainty, this world renowned cheese is notable for being available in only one location in the entire world; Bellelay. It is one of very few cheeses that come with a label of authenticity.
- Der Scharfe Maxx
Lastly, we have a cheese referred to as the Feisty Bull, which may give you the impression that it is the sort of cheese that makes your jaw hurt with powerful flavours. On the contrary, the Feisty Bull is a delicate, subtle cheese that boasts a nutty, custard like flavour and it’s truly decadent.
If you don’t have travel plans to Switzerland, don’t panic, just go to your local retailer.