“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 thermophilus, Lactobacillus, 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.”
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.
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.
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!
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!