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Gruyere Cheese

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Recently I discovered that there are many varieties of this cheese. Does anyone have suggestions as to which may be the smoothest and best melting variety. I tried a couple a few days ago and found those to be be a little too gritty for my purposes. Sorry, I don't recall right now which varieties I tried, although one was a grotte, a cave aged Swiss variety, and I picked up a small wedge of another Swiss variant today @ Trader Joe's, just to try another variety.

shel
post #2 of 12
You may prefer Comte, a french gruyere style cheese. Also choose a younger cheese as gruyere can be a bit grainy at full ripeness
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 12
Grana in cheese is usually a sign of quality and good ageing practice (affinage). Gruyeres do deserve a proper vertical tasting to fully understand how they ripen and to discover your personal preferences. Cave aged makes a huge difference. In my experience, one year is good, two years is perfect, three years is too old.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'll stop at the Cheese Board (Berkeley's largest and most fully stocked cheese store) after the weekend and try a greater variety. As Phil suggested, the younger cheese seems to fill the melting requirement - at least the Trader Joe's sample did. Very creamy - used it on a small home made pizza last night along with mozzarella, garlic, portabella mushrooms. Flavor wasn't too bad at all, but something with a little more depth might be nice. I may look into the comte as well.

shel
post #5 of 12
Meltability (!?) is less a function of age than of where it's from. French Gruyere oils off while Swiss gruyere melts exquisitely.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tip. The cheese I had last night was a Swiss variant. Is there a difference in how the French and Swiss versions are made? I suppose what I'm also asking is that, if the cheeses aren't made in the same manner, what might be the difference, and how can they both be called Gruyere?

shel
post #7 of 12
Traditionally, Gruyere was just another word like tomme. It did not designate "that" cheese in particular (eg: gruyere de Comte or gruyere de Beaufort). Swiss and French gruyeres are made almost the same way, just on different sides of the Alps. I couldn't tell you why they react so differently or taste so differently; there are so many variables that could come into play: the breed of cow, the pasturing guidelines, etc. What I can say is that true Swiss Gruyere is produced with the strictest guidelines for quality (grass/hay fed cows, milk from 2 milings only, milk heated in copper pots, etc). AOC standards define this. Other Gruyeres are typically made industrially with pasteurized milk and often lower standards of quality.

Swiss Gruyere is the only true one and has a Swiss AOC designation. Eventually, they will get the EU's protection (PDO) which will put an end to the liberal use of the word Gruyere by other countries such as Denmark, France and Germany which freely use the word.

While I prefer cave aged Gruyeres, many cheesemongers use the term at will to raise their prices. Don't take their word for it: sample them yourself.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi,

Thanks for the info ... there are a few places around here that can be trusted 100%, so that's where I usually get my cheese. But you're correct - the more you know the better your luck :smiles:

Take care - shel
post #9 of 12
Digression, questions and suppositions follow:

Isn't Emmentaler Cheese a class of cheeses the American's have bastardized as Swiss cheese but also includes Gruyere? Gruyere the high end version and the various Emmental varietals filling in the rest of the market niches and Swiss filling up US grocery shelves?

So for Shel's situation, perhaps a majority of less expensive Emmental for good melting and texture with an accent of Gruyere for flavor? This is what my preferred fondue recipe does anyway.

Interestingly, the dutch add a twist to this whole thing with what are known as Goutaler cheeses. A Gouda type milk base but cooked and aged as Emmentaler type cheeses resulting in Jarlsberg and other similar creamy bland cheeses. I don't think this is a star class cheese, but it's pleasant and a nice diversion occasionally. These cheeses might also offer a good melting base in a compatible flavor.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
We USA-sians may have lumped Gruyere in with Emmental - at least the ignorant may have - but, from my experience, I don't see Emmental and Gruyere as being similar, or Emmantal cheeses being a lesser version of Swiss cheese. They are different, and there are numerous other swiss cheeses, as I'm sure you know.

Switzerland Cheese

Blending Emmantal with Gruyere might make for a nice result.

shel
post #11 of 12
Jarlsberg? Creamy and bland? I beg to differ. I've had some awsome Jarlesberg!

As for Gruyere and Emmental, both are alpine cheeses, but one's propensity for propionic acid is highly developed (emmental) and the other isn't. THe one important difference between the two is that Gruyere is a washed rind cheese, and Emmental is not. This (the b-linens in the wash) creates significant differences in the flavour profile and the aroma.
post #12 of 12
I've been to the town of Gruyeres and have toured the cheesemaking facilities and farms, and have tasted Gruyere of many different ages. IMO if you want to buy Gruyere cheese, only buy the one that has this logo from this link, click on the link for Gruyere cheese (there's also a link for Vacherin)

La Gruyère - Bienvenue

It is said that there is a distinct profile to the Alpine herbs that the cows in the Gruyere region eat, and hence no other regions can produce true Gruyere cheese. In the town of Gruyeres, they sell the cheese in many age ranges. Fabulous!

Now on occasion our Costco will have some true Gruyere cheese, I've seen both the cave aged and other, it's like a present when it's there, it's very reasonably priced, and in good condition. Swiss Emmenthal when authentic is also, like Gruyere, a raw milk cheese. If you read the ingredients, it should state unpasteurized milk.
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