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The origin
People
and their handiwork
The quality symbols.
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Geographical Region

The region of the Emmentaler PDO includes the cantons of Aargau, Bern (without the administrative district of Moutier), Glarus, Luzern, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Zug and Zurich, as well as the Lake and Sense district in the canton of Freiburg.p>

Production

For the production of Emmentaler PDO only fresh raw milk from farmers' entreprises in the vicinity of the cheese dairy is used. The raw milk, as well as special feeding regulations, for example the silage prohibition, result in a valuable crude milk raw material, which gives the cheese its characteristic, unique and aromatic aroma. For 1 kg of Emmentaler 12 litres of milk are necessary. Bacteria cultures and rennet are added to the heated milk. The natural bacteria cultures later ensure the fermentation and the maturing of the cheese. The rennet makes the milk curdle. The use of rennet substances and cultures originating from genetically modified organisms ist prohibited. The freshly manufactured cheese loaves are pressed under increasing hydraulic pressure (up to approx. 2000 kg) and turned automatically several times for about 20 hours. In the pressing process the remaining excess whey is pressed through the fine screening sheets of the mould. During this time the milk sugar ferments to milk acid. After pressing the loaves are placed into a salt bath. Here they stay for two days, absorb the salt and eliminate the water. In the process the first layer of crust forms which gives the cheese loaf its stability. The young cheese loaves stay for 5-20 days in the cold salt bath cellar at a temperature of 12-16°C, then 6-8 weeks at a temperature of 19-24°C in the warm fermentation cellar. The warmth of the fermentation cellar induces the propionic acid fermentation. In the process carbonic acid develops which cannot escape and which concentrates in those spots in the cheese where the holes can be found later. After the time spent in the fermentation cellar the loaves are throughly cleaned and stored in the storage cellar at 11-14°C until they are delivered to the cheese market. In the fermentation cellar the loaves are often turned, in the colder storage cellar only once a week. The loaves weighing 75-120 kg stay in the storage cellar of the cheese dairy until they are three months old. Thereafter they are picked up by the cheese retailer and continue to mature in the big storage cellars of the trading firms. The Emmentaler is not ready for consumption before the age of four months at the earliest. The longer the maturing time the more intensive the aroma of the carefully herded and cared for Emmentaler loaf.

History

In the 17th and 18th centuries the so-called cowherd system in the canton of Bern lead to a strong expansion of the cheese production. The cowherd system is based on the current right in Emmental of the youngest son to take over the farm, undivided. Older brothers were bought out and were left with money, but without a property. A lot of these devoted themselves as so-called cowherds to the cheese production. Also the promotion of the economy was favourably disposed towards the cheese. The aristocrats in Bern supported the expansion of the milk economy. The first cheese factory in the valley came into being in 1813 in Kiesen. From 1815 it was also the first factory to be run as a cooperative (today it hosts the national dairy museum). In the following centuries a large number of cheese factories in the valleys were built. From 1840 on the Emmentaler production expanded into further regions in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Parallel to the increased offer, an intensive export activity developed. In the commercial centres of the Bernese Mittelland, big storage cellars for the Emmentaler were built, the trading companies rapidly increased in number. The widely free world trade, as well as innovations such as railways, big shipping lines and the telegraph largely facilitated the export. With the creation of the import duties on agricultural products the export of Swiss cheese was stunted, and with the First World War outbreak completely stopped by the Swiss Federal Council for the benefit of the national economic supply. Subsequently the cheese branch founded a self-help organisation in 1914, then the Swiss Cheese Union. It is subject to the supervision of the Swiss Confederation. Therewith a cheese market organisation for the Emmentaler was established for the first time. After 1945 the Emmentaler remained a cheese marketed by the state regarding quantity and price. The produced amount increased continously to the peak level of approx. 58'000 tons in 1985. The number of dairies that manufactured the Emmentaler experienced in this century a wave motion. From 1960, however, a continuous decrease could be noticed, which was emphasised in the nineties. As the proceeds from export were not cost covering, the semigovernmental cheese union showed a deficit in the nineties which amounted to several hundred million francs each time and which were financed by the Confederation. After the dissolution of the cheese union milk producers, milk processors and the trade companies founded the branch organisation „Emmentaler Switzerland“ in order to position and assert themselves on the currently free market. After submission of the PDO request by Emmentaler Switzerland the Federal court declared, on 25th September 2006, the PDO label of the Emmentaler legally valid, retroactively from 26th July 2002.