Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast Episode 36 Swiss Cheese
Podcast Episodes

Episode 36: Swiss Cheese – the Hole-y Grail of Cheese

December 29, 2021 Last Updated on December 29, 2021

Interview with Nadia Nadif, Brand Manager USA for Cheeses from Switzerland

If you’re a cheese lover, you’re going to love this episode! I’m joined by Nadia Nadif, the US brand manager for Cheeses from Switzerland, who is going to tell us all about Swiss cheese and what makes it so special.

Switzerland Cheese Marketing AG is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to establish cheeses from Switzerland as the world’s most popular premium cheese.

The organisation’s headquarters are based in Bern, Switzerland and they have branches in many international locations including Germany, Italy, France, Spain, the UK and the United States.

Click the green button below to listen:

Show Notes

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Nadia’s background and long involvement in the cheese industry
  • The history of Swiss cheese and why it still plays an important role in the Swiss diet
  • The amount of Swiss cheese produced each year
  • The average amount of Swiss cheese each person in Switzerland consumes each year – it’s a lot!
  • The different varieties of Swiss cheese
  • What does AOP mean?
  • Why are some cheese hard and others soft?
  • What factors give each cheese its own characteristics and taste?
  • Why does some Swiss cheese have holes?
  • Where can visitors to Switzerland see cheese being made?
  • What is the difference between the two most famous Swiss cheese dishes, Fondue and Raclette?
  • Nadia’s favourite Swiss cheese

Swiss Cheese varieties. Image courtesy Cheeses from Switzerland.

Swiss cheeses mentioned in this episode:

>> Appenzeller – produced in the gently rolling hills between Lake Constance and Mount Santis, Appenzeller is said to be the most flavoursome cheese in Switzerland, thanks to its herbal brine. It is a semi-hard cheese that has been made by hand for over 700 years.

>> Bündner Bergkäse – a specialty of Canton Graubünden, this semi-hard cheese is made from the milk of cows that graze at 1,000 metres above sea level.

>> Emmentaler AOP – the ‘king’ of Swiss cheeses comes from the Emmental valley in Canton Bern. Its status as ‘king’ is a result of its size, tradition and outstanding quality. It is a hard cheese which is famous for its holes.

>> L’Etivaz AOP – a hard cheese made in the Vaud Alps, Etivaz AOP has a tangy, fruity flavour which varies from Alp to Alp depending on the diet of the cows.

>> Le Gruyère AOP – a must-have cheese for any fondue, it takes around 400 litres of fresh, unpasteurised milk to produce one 35 kg wheel of Le Gruyère AOP (hard) cheese!

>> Raclette Suisse – dating back to the 13th century, Raclette Suisse is a semi-hard cheese with a mild, aromatic flavour.

>> Sbrinz AOP – this extra-hard cheese from central Switzerland is matured for at least 18 months in order to achieve its delicious flavours.

>> Tete de Moine AOP – translating literally as ‘monk’s head’, this semi-hard cheese from Jura has a very fine consistency which melts in the mouth. It is scraped into fine rosettes using a special cheese curler known as a girolle.

>> Tilsiter – another semi-hard cheese, this one originates in Thurgau and dates back to 1893.

>> Tomme Vaudoise – made in the Vaud and Geneva regions, this soft cheese has soft rind covered with white or red mould and a creamy consistency.

>> Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP – known for its fine melting qualities and fragrant centre, this semi-hard cheese is an essential ingredient for the famous Fondue moitié-moitié. It comes from Canton Fribourg.

>> Vacherin Mont-d’Or AOP – made from thermised (heated) cow’s milk is a soft cheese that is loved for its creaminess.

>> Raclette du Valais AOP – the original ‘scraping’ cheese, this semi-hard cheese benefits from the rich flora of the Valais mountains, the Mediterranean climate and its traditional processing.


Show Dairies open to the public

Click the dairy name to visit the official website for opening times and further information.

Emmentaler Show Dairy in Affoltern (Canton Bern) – see the cheese making process from several eras on a guided tour, make your own cheese or simply enjoy a tasting.

Appenzeller Show Dairy in Stein (Canton Appenzeller Ausserrhoden) – watch cheese being made via a multimedia experience, join a cheese-making workshop or treat your tastebuds to some delicious Appenzeller cheese.

La Maison du Gruyère in Gruyères (Canton Fribourg) – all five senses will be on high alert as you take an interactive tour to learn about the history of Le Gruyère which dates back to 1115! Cheese-making classes are available and you can also taste Le Gruyère at three different stages of maturity.

Fromagerie Les Martel in Les-Ponts-de-Martel (Canton Neuchatel) – watch Le Gruyère cheese being made through the windows of an observation gallery – and sample the finished product!

Show Dairy Monastery Engelberg in Engelberg (Canton Obwalden) – the Engelberg Benedictine Monastery is home to its own Show Dairy where you can join a guided tour, take part in a cheese-making lesson or enjoy a tasty cheese dish in the restaurant.

Maison de la Tête de Moine in Bellelay (Canton Bern) – adjacent to Bellelay Abbey, Maison de la Tête de Moine has been producing cheese for over 800 years. Visitors can watch the traditional wood-fired manufacturing methods, explore the cheese cellar and indulge in a tasting session.

Show Dairy in Einsieldeln (Canton Schwyz) – this modern Show Dairy lets visitors watch the cheese-making process for free from a viewing platform or from large windows in the restaurant.

National Dairy Museum in Kiesen (Canton Bern) – this small museum offers a fascinating look at the history of cheese production. There are numerous exhibits covering various topics such as butter and melted cheese, and a historical kitchen shows how cheese was made two hundred years ago.


Fondue is a dish to be enjoyed with family and friends. Image courtesy Cheeses from Switzerland.

Recipe for Fondue

To make Fondue moitié-moitié for 4 people, you will need:

  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 400 g. Gruyère AOP, grated
  • 400 g. Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP cut into thin slices
  • 350 ml. white wine
  • 4 teaspoons of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 small glass of kirsch
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper

Method

Prepare your fondue pot by rubbing it with the clove of garlic. 

Rub the fondue pot with the clove of garlic. Mix the Gruyère AOP and the cornflour, add the white wine and lemon juice, then bring to the boil in the fondue pot whilst stirring continuously. Reduce the heat, then add the Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP and mix well until it melts. Pour in the kirsch and season with the pepper. 

The fondue should not be cooked too long but simply kept warm on the burner.

Recipe from Cheeses from Switzerland website.


Useful Resources

For more information about the huge variety of Swiss cheese available, visit the Cheeses from Switzerland website.

You can hear more about various Swiss cheeses and cheese recipes in the following podcast episodes: Episode 31 where Andie Pilot discusses Fondue and Raclette; Episode 22 in which Lisa Nyffeler chats about La Maison du Gruyeres; Episode 19 where Andy Nef tells us about the Cheese Train; and Episode 18 where Andreas Frey talks about the Appenzeller Show Dairy at Stein.


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