Saturday, October 9, 2010

How Gruyere Cheese is Made

Ok so I am a huge nerd (this is not news) and I am really interested in how things are made. This goes for pretty much everything. With the exception of hot dogs and other meat products. No thanks, I've read The Jungle, I think I've got the gist of the beef industry.

In fact when I used to babysit back in the States, one of the families I worked for had a billion TV channels and late at night I'd watch...the Science channel. Purely to watch episodes of "How It's Made". Not joking. Ask me how down comforters and golf balls are made.

So last weekend my host family took me and my first ever visitor (!!) to the village of Gruyere to see how they make the world-famous cheese. And since clearly you all would also want to know how it's made, I'm going to share it with you. With pictures.

Here's the heart of the factory. The big copper vats are for stirring and heating the milk. They only use milk from Swiss cows and they heat and stir for hours and hours, adding in a curdling agent.

After the curdling process, they take out the curds and press them in the round metal containers, to separate out the whey (a by-product) and create the big wheels.

When the pressurizing is finished, they remove the wheels to a salt bath where they soak for 24 hours to absorb a large portion of the salt and take on a lot of their flavor. Here is the salt room.

This is when it officially becomes cheese. Then the wheels are removed to a storage cellar where they sit and age. Every day for the first 90 days, a little robotic machine removes each wheel, coats it in brine, flips it over and puts it back. 

The cheese is ready to be eaten after 3 months but can be allowed to age up to 9 or 10 months for a stronger flavor. They sell the cheese in all ages.  Personally I like it mild.  Although this type of cheese is made all over the world, only cheese from this factory is allowed to be actually called Gruyere. So unless you see "Made in Switzerland", the cheese you're buying is not technically Gruyere.

The final step is to take pictures in the face cut-outs in front of the factory. Obviously.

So there you are. It's a good cheese for melting (particularly fondue) and also good for grating and serving over other things. The Swiss eat a LOT of it. I'm more of a soft cheese person myself but it's a good hard cheese. 

Ok class, wake up now, that's the end of the lecture. So what'd you think?


  1. I think cheese makes everything better. Except chocolate.

  2. Very cool! I'm so glad that you are taking advantage of opportunities like this.
    I heard that you are heading to England to see Linds. SHe is SOOOO excited! I wish I could be there too!
    I too would love the pumpkin quiche recipe... sounds delish!

  3. Neat to have seen the cheese factory! I love cheese... especially the stuff they eat in Europe. Although- I miss good old Cheddar- no one makes anything like it that I've noticed...


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