Just like its breathtaking scenery, Switzerland is synonyms with its delectable chocolates and cheese. One of the country’s most famous hard cheeses Le Gruyère is named after the medieval town of Gruyères located in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland.
Native and exclusive to the region of Gruyères since 1115 AD, Le Gruyère is being manufactured since then using the traditional method that is now patented and handed down since generations. The La maison de Gruyeres cheese factory in the centre of this picturesque town is a great place to visit and learn all about the making of this cheese.
A great ambience coupled with a gift shop and restaurant, this is one of the most popular places to visit in the town. The information displays, models and the view of the actual cheese processing is extremely engaging.
The cheese is manufactured in a highly controlled process that consists of 8 steps that includes the procurement of top-notch quality milk, addition of rennet, cutting of curds and brewing. The ‘slice curd’ is then heated to about 57 degrees and the grains obtained are kneaded together and pressed for 20 hours. The wheel is then immersed in brine and is ready for ripening (a 3-month process) and subsequent slow maturing that is done in a 90% humid environment and at a temperature of 15 °. The maturation period is anywhere between 5 to 18 months and could last even 24 months.
Depending on its age, Le Gruyère has mild, subtle flavours when about 6-9 months old. The tender, sweetish taste turns highly aromatic and strong as it gets older. Le Gruyère is perfect for baking and melting making it an ideal ingredient of the renowned Swiss fondue.
So, what makes Le Gruyère unique?
- Its incomparable aroma stems from the wide variety of grasses and plants like cumin, thyme, clover and Vanilla Orchis that grow only in the high mountain pastures of the Alps and the Jura region
- No additives are added at any stage. Cows are also fed sans additives and silage.
Regulation and quality control standards:
- Made from the milk supplied by farms that strictly comply with the Bio Suisse operational directives (Bio Suisse is a federation and a private-sector organization that is the association of organic Swiss farmers).
- Strict production standards whose ‘know how’ is bound since 2001 by specifications. This is in turn approved by the Federal Office of Agriculture.
- Le Gruyère is credited with the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label which is the quality standard for products native to a region that gives it its inimitable quality.
- It carries the AOP label (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) label that indicates its exclusivity to the Gruyères region and guarantees the authenticity of the traditional know-how.
Gruyères is also known for its chocolates and while here you can also the Callier chocolate factory