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Photo of Gruyère Cheese

Gruyère, a hard Swiss cheese, belongs to a family of robust mountain cheeses made from cow’s milk. This family includes other notable members such as Comté and Beaufort from France, and Asiago and Montasio from Italy. Originating from the same Swiss mountainous region as the ancient Sbrinz cheese, Gruyère is distinct for its moist yet dense texture, typically featuring few or no holes.

Wheels of AOP Gruyère are substantial, measuring 22-26 inches across and weighing between 55 and 88 pounds. They must age for a minimum of five months, although some are aged for up to two years or more, with older wheels being highly prized for their depth of flavor.

Regarding production, AOP Gruyère is the most produced Swiss cheese, with approximately 30,000 tons manufactured annually, about half of which is exported. The cheese's name originates from the Swiss town of Gruyères, which is historically a major market for this cheese. Although historically shared between France and Switzerland, the EU granted the exclusive AOP status to Swiss Gruyère in 2010, while French Gruyère received the less stringent IGP status in 2012.

The Swiss AOP specifications for Gruyère are broader than those for Comté, allowing the use of milk from mostly Holstein cows and including non-pasture dietary items such as potatoes and corn. The milk must originate within 20 kilometers of the cheese plant. In contrast, Comté's specifications are more restrictive, emphasizing regional milk sources.

The cheesemaking process involves heating raw milk to 88°F, adding rennet, and allowing the curd to set. The curd is then cut, stirred, and heated to develop the cheese's texture. The wheels are brined rather than dry salted to enhance flavor and texture.

AOP Gruyère d'alpage represents the traditional cheese made during the high summer pastures. This type is crafted in huts without electricity, producing only a few wheels daily using time-honored methods and equipment.

Aging Gruyère involves detailed care, with wheels maturing on spruce planks in humid caves and regularly treated with brine to develop the characteristic orangey, sticky surface known as morge. This process is crucial for developing the cheese's complex flavors and firm texture.

The flavor of Gruyère evolves with age; younger cheese is milder and ideal for cooking, while older cheese becomes sharper and is typically savored in smaller quantities. When paired with simple wines like a light white or low-tannin red, Gruyère's enjoyment is enhanced. However, regional wines like aged vin jaune or Chasselas offer a deeper gastronomic experience, perfectly complementing the cheese's rich flavors.

Important Facts

Country of Origin Switzerland
Specific Origin Switzerland, specifically the Gruyère region.
Certification AOP (2007)
Milk Type Cow’s milk
Milk Treatment Raw
Fat Content Around 32-35% fat in dry matter, which translates to about 45-50% overall fat content.
Moisture Content Approximately 35-37%, characteristic of its dense texture.
Rind Natural, orangy
Texture Dense, moister
Flavor Nutty, complex
Aroma Earthy, fruity, possibly barnyardy
Colors Varies
Forms Cylindrical
Age 5 months to 24+
Rennet Type Animal

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