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I visited a Swiss cheese farm and stayed with a local family high up in the Swiss mountains for 14 days. During that time, I learned how the Swiss make their cheese, improved my German, and experienced many exciting things.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the adventure, explain step-by-step how Swiss cheese is made, and give you insights into Swiss cheese making.
Ready to come with me on the Swiss cheese farm adventure? Let’s do it.
What Is The Process For Making Swiss Cheese? Quick Guide
Here is a quick overview of how Swiss cheese is made and which steps to take. After, keep reading for more detailed instructions.
- Heat milk and add natural yeast to it. Once curds are formed, slightly stir and beat them into smaller pieces.
- After 5 minutes, stir the milk and beat small pieces of curds into even smaller ones.
- Drain whey off the curd with a cheesecloth.
- Form the cheese inside molds.
- Check the cheese every 3 hours and turn it upside down in the mold.
- Let the cheese in a salt bath overnight and leave it in a cheese cellar for at least two weeks.
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My Experience With Swiss Cheese Making: Adventure In The Swiss Mountains
My two-week alpine farming life started on Tuesday evening when my host mum drove me from Brienz (a little village in the Jungfrau region) to the mountains, where their Swiss farmhouse is located.
This place is a wonder. Situated at 1700 meters above sea level, with only four family huts, Swiss cows, pathways, and green meadows with flowers – nothing else.
After my host mum showed me my room, I went out to explore the surroundings and soak up the quiet atmosphere of the mountains around. Later, we had our first Swiss dinner.
This is the view I had every single evening I was going to bed:
My Swiss farm stay consisted mainly of making traditional Swiss Alpine cheese in the mornings. I worked outside in their meadows in the afternoons, removing plants harming their soil.
Daily Routine On A Swiss Cheese Farm + Cheese Making Process
I woke up every day at 6:30 am to the sound of a crowing rooster. You don’t even have to use your alarm clock anymore. Sometimes, I got up earlier because I just couldn’t have enough of that pleasant atmosphere and went for a walk before breakfast.
We had breakfast around 7:00 am. I usually prepared jam, homemade butter, bread, and fresh Swiss cow milk with hot chocolate with coffee. Some days, we also made so-called Bircher muesli, Swiss oatmeal with fruits, jam, and homemade yogurt. It’s a typical Swiss breakfast.
Before breakfast, my host mum poured 100 liters of milk into a large stainless-steel pot and put it on low heat to settle. After, we started the cheese-making process.
How Swiss Cheese Is Made: Simple 6-Step Guide
After breakfast, we started the cheese production. Here is a step-by-step guide for how the Swiss cheese is made in the mountains of Switzerland.
1. STEP: Cheese Making Process
First, we added natural bacteria to the milk and let it heat. After about 40 minutes, when a curd was formed, my host mum took a giant spatula with a knife and slightly cut the curd into bigger pieces. Then it was my turn.
With a huge stainless steel spoon, I gently beat the curd into smaller pieces in a straight movement towards me. You can already see that curd being broken and your cheese being on the way.
2. STEP: Cheese Making Process
After about 5 minutes, I started slightly stirring the milk using the wooden instrument shown below in the photo. You can’t just mix it as you want. You need to stir it in circles (right to left or vice-versa) while also turning the instrument in your hands until you beat the curd into small cubes. After about 10 minutes, I stopped the process and let it sit for a while.
My host mum then sent me to their little cheese cellar to clean the other cheeses we had made in the past days or weeks.
Cheese typically stays in the cheese cellar for at least two weeks. This is the minimum time, though. It doesn’t have that strong cheesy taste when you taste it after only two weeks. So the best is to let it sit there between 3 to 4 weeks.
Every morning, I had to go to the cellar and clean both sides of each cheese with a cloth and hot water. Imagine, when there are more than 400 cheese pieces, you could go crazy. But with such a view, farming in the Alps and the whole process never gets boring.
Then my host mum called me after another 45 minutes to come up to the farmhouse and watch her forming the cheese.
3. STEP: Cheese Making Process
The next step was to take a cheesecloth, which my host mum always did as it was the most critical and difficult step. In the cheesecloth, she drained whey off the curd. Once drained, she put the whey into a mold with drainage holes that let the whey get rid of the liquid.
4. STEP: Cheese Making Process
Once my host mum gave me the mold with whey, I had to put a heavy steel circle into it and press it to push more liquid out.
Inside the mold, the whey started to create a cheese shape, and so after the first press, I took it out, turned it upside-down, and put it back into the mold.
Next, I placed a plastic circle with holes and the steel circle above and let it sit for a while. My host mum had the next mold with whey ready and passed it to me, so I repeated this process with the rest.
We usually made 18 to 20 small pieces of cheese every second day, starting with 100 liters of cow milk.
The finishing touch was a little red paper that we placed on top of the cheese, which was going to be sold.
We gave the rest of the liquid to pigs living on the farm.
Afterward, we left the cheese to settle and get rid of more liquid as the steel circle still pushed it slightly down. So I returned to the cheese cellar and continued cleaning the other pieces.
Cleaning the cheese every day is very important because it prevents it from molds and gives it more moisture to boost the aging process.
5. STEP: Cheese Making Process
After about 40 minutes, I went up again to take care of the freshly made cheese. I had to remove all the cheese pieces from the mold, turn it upside-down, and cover it again with plastic and steel circles.
The same process had to be repeated every 40 minutes, three times during the morning.
6. STEP: Cheese Making Process
Towards the evening, once the cheese was perfectly formed and the liquid was gone, I took the fresh cheese pieces to the cheese cellar and prepared a salt bath.
The cheese stayed overnight in the salt bath. The next day, I put it on the wooden racks in the cheese cellar.
Salt not only adds flavor to the cheese but also prepares it for aging.
How Long Is Swiss Cheese Aged?
It takes one day to produce Swiss cheese. From 100 liters of milk, you can make around 18 pieces of smaller Swiss cheese. Afterward, you must let it age in a cheese cellar for 2 to 4 weeks.
The more you let it sit in the cellar, the stronger the cheese flavor. The usual time for the cheese to age is 3 to 4 weeks to obtain a good flavor.
Where To Buy Traditional Swiss Cheese Near Interlaken
Once I cleaned all the cheese pieces, I returned to our hut to prepare lunch. We ate potatoes with cheese, some vegetables, or traditional ‘Spaetzli,’ which are little cheese dumplings.
After lunch, we usually allowed ourselves little rest for about an hour. After that, my host mum went down to a funicular station, where she was selling the cheese to tourists going up to the Brienzer Rothorn mountain.
It’s the only steam rack railway in Switzerland and a fantastic experience. If you are in the Jungfrau region, check the Brienzer Rothorn funicular. Moreover, you can buy cheese from the local farm where I was staying.
Activities On A Cheese Farm
I usually spent the afternoons in nearby meadows, ripping out the weeds and old harmful plants so that cows have freshly prepared grass for eating. Yes, this also belongs to Swiss farming duties. Meanwhile, I was eating all those blueberries from Swiss bushes, so sometimes a majority of the meadow was letf full of weeds :D.
Some days I had to rip out small trees. Its purpose was to prevent the trees from growing on the meadows so that cows constantly have a lot of grass to eat.
It wasn’t the most adventurous part of Swiss farming, but luckily, I didn’t have to do it often. Otherwise, I would increase the chance of falling into Brienz Lake. Because the hills were steep and I had to use all my power to rip the trees out.
Weekends On A Cheese Farm
Weekends were usually off. I just went outside and chilled on the meadows, listening to the music and staring at the beauty around me.
Best Part Of The Swiss Cheese Farming
In the middle of August, my Swiss farm holidays were coming to an end. But the highlight was just on its way.
We all went to the stall above the house, which was about 2000 meters above sea level. Then we started calling the cows and brought them back to the farm house.
Just imagine those Swiss cows mooing and coming down mountains through the green meadow and you running behind them. It was an adventure of a lifetime.
The cows stay around the mountain house during the whole autumn. The family then guides them down to their second house next to the lake, where they remain for the winter.
After that, they take them up again in spring and, for summer, further up to the stall.
👉 READ ALSO: Switzerland In November: Best Things To Do & See
How To Find A Farm Stay In Switzerland
I found this Swiss farm job on the Agriviva website, where you can find many Swiss family farms offering different jobs. Some are vegetable farms, and some are cheese farms. Some need your help taking care of children.
You can decide what you want to do. It’s an incredible opportunity to find your farm holidays in Switzerland. You’ll also get some pocket money.
However, you have to know that Agriviva accepts mostly German-, Italian-, or French-speakers. It’s a perfect chance to practice these languages on a farm if you speak a few words in those languages.
Alternatively, you might also find such farm stays via Workaway website. They also offer volunteering options for English speakers.
RELATED ARTICLE: How To Learn A Language For Travel: 7 Basic Steps
Best Cheese Excursions In Switzerland
I have great excursions for you if you’re only visiting Switzerland and want to experience a cheese-making process.
My top choice is to do a cheese excursion in Gruyeres, but you can also do the other ones in Zürich and taste Fondue – a Swiss national dish. Below are the top cheese excursions you can do in Switzerland from different cities.
Wrap-Up: How Swiss Cheese Is Made
This is a simple 6-step guide for how Swiss cheese is made. It’s my adventure on a Swiss farm, making delicious Alpine cheese and staying with a local family. Whether you’d like to experience something similar or just want to learn how to make Swiss cheese, I hope you enjoyed this adventure.
Remember to try Swiss cheese if you plan your trip to Switzerland. Typical Swiss dishes are cheese fondue or raclette. All are made of fresh Swiss cheese. Also, do some of the cheese excursions and see the cheese-making process in real life.
How Swiss Cheese Is Made: FAQs
To help you understand how Swiss cheese is made, I’ve also answered some frequently asked questions about Swiss cheese. So check them out below.
What Is Swiss Cheese Good For?
Swiss cheese is great for enhancing dishes and adding strong flavor to them. For example, the Swiss cheese Gruyere is the best to make a typical Swiss dish called fondue. Another great dish, Raclette, is also made out of cheese.
Swiss Cheese Is Made From Which Bacteria?
The holes in the Emmental cheese are made from the Propionibacterium freundenreichii bacteria.
How Are The Cheese Holes Made?
To make the typical cheese, locals use Propionibacterium freundenreichii bacteria. As it grows inside the cheese, it converts lactate to propionate and CO2, which creates holes in the cheese.
Is Swiss Cheese Natural?
Yes, Swiss cheese is natural, and it’s one of the best fresh cheeses in the world. It’s well-known for its specific strong taste as it’s made in the Alpine meadows surrounded by the Swiss mountains.
Why Is Swiss Cheese So Different?
Swiss cheese is different because it’s made at a high altitude on local Alpine meadows. Cows have an excellent environment, fresh and healthy grass, and produce great milk. The Swiss mountainous environment adds a different flavor to the cheese.
More Tips For Switzerland Travel
Looking to visit more places in Switzerland? Check out my related articles:
Switzerland Itinerary For 8 Days – explore the Swiss highlights
11 Cheapest Ways To Travel In Switzerland – plan wisely and save up
Swiss Travel Pass – unlimited travel in Switzerland
Jungfrau Travel Pass vs. Swiss Travel Pass – which one to choose
About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.