Swiss cheese

A generic term for cheeses patterned after Switzerland's emmental, and made throughout the world in myriad countries including Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States. Made with partially skimmed cow's milk, Swiss cheese in general has a pale yellow color, a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and large eyes. The eyes form during a ripening period of about 30 days in warm rooms where heat-loving bacteria begin to ferment and throw off carbon dioxide bubbles, creating holes in the cheese that can range in size from that of a cherry to that of a walnut. Total ripening time for Swiss cheese can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months. Regular Swiss cheese can come in wheels of 185 to 210 pounds, and rectangles weighing 25 to 28 pounds. A smaller format (two- to five-pound wheels) is known as Baby Swiss, a version typically made with whole milk. Baby Swiss also isn't aged as long as the regular version, has smaller and fewer eyes, a softer texture and a milder, sweeter flavor. Many producers make a smoked rendition of Baby Swiss.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

Next Up

In Season: Swiss Chard

This leafy green is in season and ready to bring nutritional goodness to your table.

Cheese Basics

Learn about storing, buying and pairing cheese from the cheese experts at Sartori Cheese.

50 Grilled Cheese

Make a sandwich from Food Network Magazine for any meal of the day—even dessert!

Cheese Buying Tips

With hundreds of cheeses now available at the grocery store and in cheese shops, buying cheese can be downright intimidating. But rather than approaching the cheese counter with dread, think of buying cheese as a fun adventure.

50 Cheese Appetizers

Please any crowd with these fun starters from Food Network Magazine. 

Holiday Cheese Balls

Who says cheese balls have to be round? For your next party, try one of these holiday-themed shapes—complete with decorations—to give your cheese ball a festive look.