The hills are alive with the taste of cheeses—alpine cheeses to be exact! Though commonly known as “Swiss” cheeses, the term "alpine" is more accurate as it describes any cheese made in the Alps, a mountain range that extends through Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy. Read more to learn about the features of these cheeses and what gives them their distinct flavors and characteristics.
The hills are alive with the taste of cheeses—alpine cheeses to be exact! Though commonly known as “Swiss” cheeses, the term "alpine" is more accurate as it describes any cheese made in the Alps, a mountain range that extends through Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy. Along with a common location, these cheeses all share similar cheesemaking processes, properties and peak times.
One thing all alpine cheeses have in common is transhumance—the process of moving the animals to different altitudes depending on the season. This seasonal shifting of grazing ground has a dramatic influence on the flavors of the cheese depending on which season you’re eating.
Typically made with cow's milk, alpine cheeses range from semi-firm to hard and usually have natural, washed rinds. Their signature holes, ranging from pea-sized to quarter-sized, are created by a carbon dioxide-producing bacteria during the cheesemaking process.
Some traditional alpine cheeses are Gruyere, Comte, Emmethal, Appenzeller, Fontina and Raclette. This season, Nugget Markets is also carrying some unique alpine options like Red Witch, Almkase, Sbrinz, Urchruter, Maxx Extra, Hubaner, Hornbacher, Edel Suisse, Alpkase and Grottino. For alpine-style cheeses that are made outside of the Alps, try Alpine from Saxony creamery, Jarlsberg, San Geronimo and Nicasio Reserve. (Selection will vary by location.)
Alpine cheeses are great in traditional recipes like Fondue (a 50/50 mixture of Gruyere and Emmentaler), French Onion Soup (topped with melted Gruyere or Comte) and Potato Gratin—like our signature recipe for Red Gratin with Gruyere & Fontina!
In America, we’re most familiar with alpine cheeses in cooking, but they make a delicious addition to cheese boards, too. Check out some of our favorite alpine cheese and beer pairings with our Daily Dish: Dynamic Duos!