Emmentaler: the queen of swiss cheese

This nutty, fruity cheese is the very picture of swiss cheese, full of golden color and riddled with iconic holes, or what are formally known as eyes. Because it never separates under heat, emmentaler is the perfect melting cheese for dipping bread and roasted potatoes, a.k.a. fondue!

Our Wisconsin cheesemakers are pros at producing world-class emmentaler cheese. Even though we lack the elevated Alpine meadows, we've perfected (and some say improved) the ancient emmentaler recipes brought over by Swiss immigrants in the 1800s.

So, next time you want to pay a little homage to the queen of swiss cheese, you don't have to search out products made in the Alps – just look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese™ badge at your local grocery.

Pairing your emmenthaler

Emmentaler is the be-all and end-all when it comes to making the best fondue recipe. There is no substitute for the nutty, fruity, creamy qualities of this perfectly melting cheese. You can also dress up Wisconsin potatoes with a coat of emmentaler – just melt it over hash browns, home fries, or gratins. When it's sandwich time, a slice of emmentaler on a Reuben with a little red onion is a very fine thing. And you can never go wrong with slices of emmentaler on your cheese charcuterie board. (Need a cheese platter idea? Just pair your emmentaler with slightly tart apples, firm pears, fresh figs, a little berry jam, some roasted pecans, and sliced salami with mustard.)

For drinks, emmentaler is most comfortable with beers that have a similar Old World pedigree – think bocks, stouts, porters, and weiss beers. For wine, zinfandel, syrah, merlot, riesling, Grüner Veltliner or sauvignon blanc.

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FAQs: What is emmentaler?

What is emmentaler cheese?

Emmentaler is an alpine-style cheese made from cow's milk that originates from the Swiss town of Emmental. This semi-hard, golden yellow cheese has a mild flavor – slightly nutty, buttery, and fruity – and is recognized for its marble-sized holes. Emmentaler cheese melts easily and uniformly, making it perfect for sauces and fondues. Traditionally, emmentaler is made in large copper kettles and pressed into wheels that weigh as much as 200 pounds before it is aged from 4 to 14 months.

Why does emmentaler have holes?

The famous holes, or "eyes," in emmentaler cheese come from carbon dioxide bubbles produced by the bacteria that are introduced in the cheesemaking process to give the cheese its flavor. As the cheese hardens, these bubbles turn into air pockets which appear as holes when the cheese is sliced.

What is alpine-style cheese?

Alpine-style cheeses are a family of semi-firm to hard cheeses that were originally made in the mountains of Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and northern Italy. Alpine-style cheese is traditionally made in large wheels that promote a longer shelf life and enable to cheese to be transported down the mountain with greater ease.

What's the difference between emmentaler, and swiss cheese?

Emmentaler is made in Switzerland, so they are technically Swiss-style cheeses. But the name "swiss cheese" is actually an American version of emmentaler and other alpine-style cheeses that was created by Swiss immigrants to America in the mid-1800s. Emmentaler comes from the Emmentaler Valley in Switzerland and is a semi-hard cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk, with a mild, nutty, buttery, and somewhat fruity flavor. American swiss cheese also has eyes and a nutty, buttery flavor, but is much milder than its Swiss counterparts.

In Wisconsin, we are always up for emmentaler

Wisconsin cheesemakers have been making cheese since the first Swiss immigrants settled here in the mid-1800s. Now 175 years later, we're still knocking emmentaler out of the ballpark. That's thanks in part to our state-wide obsession with pushing the boundaries of what cheese can be.

It's also thanks to our Master Cheesemaker program -- the only one in the world outside Switzerland. It's why every Master Cheesemaker in America has called Wisconsin home.

But mostly it's because we are a state that dreams in cheese and is committed to making the tastiest, most award-winning, highest-quality cheese in the universe – emmentaler included.

So, we love you Switzerland, but we'll fill our fondue pot with Wisconsin emmentaler every time.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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