29 October 2006
Emme valley in Switzerland, a highly bucolic region known for dairy farming and the robust Emme river. Although endemic to this valley the name Emmantaler is also used to describe cheeses originating in France and Bavaria. The common variant found in the United States, known as Swiss cheese, is not authentic Emmantaler. The "eyes" of the cheese are created by bacteria off-gassing carbon dioxide during the aging process. The larger the "eyes", the longer the cheese has been aged. Larger "eyes" make the cheese harder to slice, however, which is why the American variant is typically younger. It behooves the amateur cheese lover the recognize the distinction between this holey cheese found in delis and mom's fridge and the true Emmantaler. The Emmental is readily found in American grocery stores as well as specialty wine and cheese shops. Other countries have produced similar cheeses such as Jarlsberg (Norway) and Leerdammer (Netherlands). The Emmentalers sampled ranged in price from $5.99 to $7.99 US dollars / pound.