Emmentaler takes its name from the Emme valley in Bern canton, where dairy production can be traced back to the 12th century. Here, dairy production was supported by abundant pastures, pure, cool waters and the tradition of Kühwesen, a custom in which ownership of family farmhouses was passed on to the youngest son, forcing the other brothers to pursue alternatives, such as cheese production. Under these conditions, an important cheesemaking tradition developed, becoming a guarantee of artisanal expertise for “difficult” cheeses such as Emmentaler. The difficulty lies in the long and complex production technique, as well as the effort of handling the large forms the Emmentaler is shaped into, often around 100 kg.
From the second half of the 19th century, Emmentaler started to be appreciated outside of its original region and began to be exported all over the world. As is often the case, its huge success led to a progressive standardization of production techniques and to the concentration of production into fewer and larger dairies. Luckily some small cheesemakers kept producing the cheese following the traditional method, using milk coming twice a day from small local breeders (1200 liters for each form), used raw and full. The whey is inoculated and the curd heated at 32°C; then cut, cooked and shaped. The forms are pressed and put into brine for a short period. The forms are then set in humid and warm chambers for at least three months, enabling the propionic acid fermentation process to take place, responsible for the cheese’s trademark holes. The forms are then aged in even more humid cellars. The perfect aging must assure a bronze-colored and polished rind, a hard paste with regular and well-defined holes, and an intense nutty flavor, which lingers on the tongue.
The established Presidium supports an old method of production. The particularly long aging period (at least 12 months) in natural cellars is an example of the implemen- tation of Slow Food philosophy.
Emme valley, Bern canton
Presidium supported by
Gourmino AG – Roland Sahli
tel. +41 716884248
tel. +41 344021312
SDubach Fritz e Hansueli