Emmental Cheese

This version of a Swiss cheese is quite easy to make.  I have had good results with Emmental cheese so far, and have made it about 4 times now. This cheese has a fantastic nutty flavour, and each time I make it, I end up with different hole sizes.  So what makes the holes?  Well, Wikipedia states;
“The cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern. Unlike some other cheese varieties, the denomination “Emmentaler” was not protected (“Emmentaler Switzerland” is, though). Hence, Emmentaler of other origin, especially from France and Bavaria, is widely available and even Finland is an exporter of Emmentaler cheese.
Emmentaler is a yellow, medium-hard cheese. Failure to remove CO2 bubbles during production, due to inconsistent pressing, results in the large holes (“eyes“) characteristic of this cheese. Historically, the holes were a sign of imperfection, and until modern times, cheese makers would try to avoid them. It has a piquant, but not very sharp, taste. Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmentaler: Streptococcus thermophilusLactobacillus, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. In the late stage of cheese production, P. freudenreichii consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria, and releases carbon dioxide gas, which slowly forms the bubbles that make holes.”
 I didn’t take any pictures during any of the making sessions, but be assured the procedure is not that dissimilar from other hard cheeses I have made.  The only real difference is that you add the Propionic Shermanii to the milk at the same time as the Mesophilic culture and let it ripen for the specified time.  Add Rennet, cut the curd, stir for a long, long time, then press.

Once pressed, you have to leave it in the cheese cave for a week, turning it daily, then remove and keep it at room temperature (21°-24°C) for two to three weeks.  This is to let the eyes develop and the cheese swells at the top, bottom and the sides begin to bulge.  This is unlike any other cheese I have made.  You also have to turn and wipe with a brine solution daily to help the rind form.  It even smells like Swiss cheese now after a week.  Here is a photo of a week old cheese.  Note the swelling sides.

After the eye formation is complete it gets returned back to the cheese cave for another three months for final ripening and is turned three times a week and wiped in the brine solution at the same time.  This cheese is not normally waxed.  I was looking forward to the day that I cracked open this cheese.
Well, the four months were up after a long wait.  When we cracked open the wheel and this is what we found.

 There was a 3cm split on the top and it was a little infected with Penicillium Roqueforti, however the Propionic Shermanii culture did its work.  Well, some of the work in most part of the cheese.  I believe that even though I gave the wheel a wash of brine a couple of times a week as per the recipe, after I let the eyes form, the rind is far too thick.  I think that because the cheese was not waxed, as stated in the recipe, it just hardened too much.

Since this time I have waxed it after about three weeks of eye development.  It makes for a more moist cheese however the eyes do not form as big.

Now, how did it taste I hear you ask.  Well, it tasted like a Swiss type cheese like you can buy in the supermarket, however there was an obvious difference due to the Penicillium Roqueforti culture.
It was very nice, and both Kim and Pam (Kim’s Mum) agreed that it was a very tasty cheese.  The rind had a very strong flavour and as you can see more eyes formed closer to the rind than in the centre.  Here is it sliced on a platter.

 The quarter I served up was very holy indeed.  Easy to cut and great flavour with a plain cracker.  I really liked the extra flavour in the blue vein part!

When made commercially this cheese is made in 60-80 kg wheels, which aids the uniformity of the eye formation.  Apparently, from what I have read, the bigger the Emmental, the larger and more frequent the eyes.
Now last week, I cracked open a wheel of Emmental that I made in February this year.  This is what it looked like.

After I took the wax off, I was pleased to note that it still had a nice yellow rind.  As you can see I used Jersey Milk, which was about 4.2% butterfat.


 It sliced well, and if you look closely, it has many hundreds of tiny holes.  I don’t think that I put in enough  Propionic Shermanii, or it may have been too hot in Summer when it was resting at room temperature during hole formation.

 Anyway, it still tasted nutty and smooth.  This is a fantastic cheese for anyone who has a little patience, and I recommend it after you have a few other cheeses under your cheesemaking belt!

 Emmental cheese definitely sounds like a candidate for a video tutorial.  Maybe next Friday.  What do you think?


  1. Anonymous says

    I may sound very stupid but it shocked me that it takes 4 months to make the cheese!

  2. says

    @ Techchick, thanks!

    @ Lucy, I buy Sungold Jersey milk when in season. You can get it from Spring to early Autumn in Victoria.

  3. Lucy says

    Hi Gavin

    Where does one buy Jersey milk in the city, or for that matter milk with 4.2% fat. I had a scout through the dairy section of Coles today and couldn't find any milks with this fat content. Can you point me in the right direction?

  4. says

    Hi Gavin! I love your cheese videos. I've seen a few from other people on YouTube, but your DIY cheese videos always seem to be the clearest.

    Just for some global price comparisons, in Canada the cheap cheddar in 500 gram blocks in the big box grocery stores cost about $10 CDN a kilo, and the cheap swiss / jack cheese costs over $23/kilo. Don't even ask what the good stuff costs…

  5. says

    @ Graeme,

    I have performed a cost analysis on Caerphilly. It costs me $13.79 for about a kilo. That cost takes into account all the ingredients, electricity for the cheese fridge during aging, and natural gas for the stove top. This does not include my time into the cost equation.

    I don't know the cost of Caerphilly in the shops (because I can't find it), but for any other decent hard cheese it is at least $30 kg.

    Overall I would say that it is very cost effective as a hobby.

    @ Nicola,

    I have heard of people using aluminium or tin foil to perform the same function, but I am not sure if it would breathe. You could always give it a go.


  6. says


    I love reading about your cheesy pursuits! I have been making feta for over a year now and recently had a go at making camembert. I can't wait to move onto hard cheeses like this one – holding out for a cheese press for xmas!
    I have a question – I'm almost ready to wrap my camembert. I was wondering do you purchase special cheese wrap or is there any alternative? The shop where I get my supplies charges $10 for 20 sheets plus postage, which is going to push up the price of making it.


  7. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin,

    Thanks for a terrific blog! Just a simple question for you…putting the obvious benefits of making your own cheese aside, how does the cost compare to purchasing cheese in the store?


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