Cheese of the mice: Emmental | European Cheese: Part 3

While growing up, Tom and Jerry used to be one of my favorite cartoons. The fact that Jerry always used to be after cheese is the reason why he was my favorite amongst the two, simply because I loved cheese too!

The triangular piece of cheese with large irregular holes that was always used as the bait by tom was actually Emmental cheese. Now I understand why Jerry used to go till the extent of risking his life to grab a morsel of this creamy and rich cheese.

This Swiss cheese that is made from whole cow’s unpasteurized milk is named after the Emme River Valley in Switzerland where it was originally made. Emmental is a type of hard cheese with a pale yellow colour on the inside and a sharp, nutty taste. The characteristic uneven holes in Emmental are formed by gas bubbles released by the bacteria that are used in making the cheese. I was under the impression that any Cheese that has holes is Swiss, but after some research, I learned that not all cheese with holes is Swiss cheese and not all Swiss cheese has holes!

Emmental Cheese

Emmental, Switzerland’s oldest and most prestigious cheese has a hard, thin rind, that is covered by paper with the producer’s name on it. It is considered to be one of the most difficult cheeses to be produced because of its complicated hole-forming fermentation process. Generally, these large, wheel-shaped cheeses are matured in cellars for an average of 4-6 months, although they can be aged for much longer to give a richer flavour.

Because it melts so well, Emmental is frequently used in sauces and grilled sandwiches. Being one of the two main kinds of cheese (along with Gruyère) in the traditional fondue recipe, Emmental was one Cheese that was difficult for me to resist. Hence, the first thing that I made was a simple and delicious grilled cheese sandwich, where I simply sandwiched used some slices of Emmental between two slices of whole wheat bread and toasted it till golden brown. The supple cheese melted and gave a cheese-spread like texture. The flavour was strong, nutty and certainly very addictive.

The remaining cheese had to be stored, which I wrapped tightly with a plastic cling film. When wrapped properly, the cheese would last 3-4 weeks easily. Though I finished mine in under a week. How? Because I paired it along with a glass of red wine (Merlot to be precise) and it went along with it so well, that in little time, it was nowhere to be seen!


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