Gruyère is a firm, pale yellow Swiss cheese with small holes. It is Switzerland’s most popular cheese and is named after the picturesque village of Gruyère, near Fribourg. Its history can be traced back to 1115.
In 2001, Gruyère was granted the Protected Designation of Origin (AOC-Appellation d’origine contrôlée) at the national level.
In 2011, it received the Protected Designation of Origin, AOP (Appellation d’origine protégée) for all of Europe. This means that within Europe, Gruyère can only be produced by authorized producers, in Switzerland, in the designated region(s), under designated conditions and must have an AOP label, affixed to the exterior.
Types of Gruyère, AOP
The cheese is yellow and slightly sweet and salty, but the flavour depends on the age of the cheese.
Gruyère AOP ‘Classic’ between 6 and 9 months old. The cheese is soft with a refined taste that will delight palates in search of sweet pleasures.
Gruyère AOP Réserve: starting at 10 months. The cheese has a full-flavoured and aromatic taste, which will please lovers of aromatic subtlety.
18-24 Month Old Gruyère. AOP: this is reserved for lovers of strong, complex sensations.
Gruyère d’Alpage, AOP, made in summer, from mid-May to mid-October. During this time, cows graze in the lush alpine pastures. They produce rich flavoured milk which gives this cheese a unique taste. The cheese is pressed in cloth and is made in 25kg wheels.
Gruyère AOP Bio: is made from organic milk produced according to the standards set by BIO-SUISSE.
For more information on Types of Gruyère, AOP.
Making Gruyère Cheese
Bacterial culture, made from whey, is added, to unpasteurized milk in copper vats, then rennet is added to facilitate coagulation.
The curd is cut into granules using big knives called “cheese harps”and then gradually heated up to 57° (135°F) for 40-45 minutes.
The curd granules and whey are pumped into round moulds. Each mould is marked with the inscription Gruyère AOP and the number of the dairy. The whey runs out and the cheese is pressed for around twenty hours, to expel the whey.
The cheese is removed from the moulds and put in a 22% concentrated salt bath (brine), for 24 hours.
The wheels of cheese are stored for 3 months in the cheese maker’s cellars then transferred to the ‘caves d’affinage’ where they’re matured under strictly specified conditions for 5-18 (-21) months. During this time, the wheels are turned over, and washed with salt water (brine).
For more information on Gruyere production.
How to Enjoy Gruyère Cheese
Gruyère is a great melting cheese and is well suited for fondues. It’s also great for sandwiches, pancakes, crepes and omelettes.
Because it melts well and has a distinctive but not assertive taste, it’s an excellent cheese for baking quiches, tarts, pies, soufflés and muffins or for roast potatoes and gratins.
It can also be used in soups, sauces and risottos.
It’s traditionally used in French onion soup.
Also used in chicken and veal cordon bleu; stuffed aubergines; fish, pork and poultry dishes.
Grated over pasta, salads, tacos, or vegetables, or into sauces.
Can be served as a snack with walnuts and fruity bread or served on the cheeseboard.
For tantalizing recipes using Gruyere AOP.
Gruyère Style cheeses
The French Comté and Beaufort.
Gruyère style cheeses are also produced in Wisconsin, the USA.
- Origin: Switzerland, Fribourg
- Milk: unpasteurized cow’s milk, fed on natural forage
- Age: 5-24 months
- Classification: semi-soft to hard
- Texture and colour: yellow, dense and compact
- Flavour: depends on age of cheese
- Rind: natural, rusty brown rind
- Fat content:
- Moisture content:
- Weight and shape: (25-)30–40kg (66–88lb), wheels
- Producer: various producers in Switzerland
- Certification: 2001, AOC (at National Level) and 2011, AOP, Appellation d’origine protégée ( protected designation of origin) at EU level