Photo of Appenzeller Cheese
Important Facts
Country of Origin Switzerland
Specific Origin Appenzell region
Milk Type Cow's milk
Milk Treatment Raw
Rind Washed rind
Texture Firm
Flavor Piquant, tangy
Colors Pale yellow
Forms Wheel

About Appenzeller Cheese

Appenzeller is a hard Swiss cheese with a rich history dating back over seven centuries. Originally made by Alps herdsmen as tithe payments to the St. Gallen monastery, cheesemaking remains a tradition in the region. Appenzeller must be full fat with 48 percent fat or low fat with 18 percent fat. Wheels are 12 to 13 inches across, weighing about 15 pounds for full-fat and 12 to 13 pounds for low-fat. It ages for three to seven months and is treated with a herbal smear (Sulz) containing twenty-five herbs and alcohol from the Ebneter distillery in Appenzell. Fifty-eight dairies in Appenzell Aussherrhoden, St. Gallen, and Thurgau cantons produce Appenzeller.

The treatment of milk for Appenzeller has become uncertain. Historically made from raw milk, producers now can use thermized milk. This change aims for uniformity but may reduce the cheese's flavor. A few makers still use exclusively raw milk, but most mix a splash of raw milk with thermized milk.

Produced in northeast Switzerland's Appenzellerland, over 70 dairies make Appenzeller cheese. An herbal brine wash, sometimes with wine or cider, is applied during curing. This process imparts distinct flavors and forms a golden rind. The cheese is straw-colored with tiny holes and a golden rind. It has a strong smell and a nutty or fruity flavor that becomes tangy with age.

Appenzeller is available in three types:

  • Classic: Aged three to four months, mildly spicy, with a silver label.
  • Surchoix: Aged four to six months, strongly spicy, with a gold label.
  • Extra: Aged six months or more, extra spicy, with a black label.

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