What Is American Swiss Cheese?


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Julii Brainard answered
Swiss cheese refers to a lot of related hard cheeses with a distinct nutty tang to it. To a European palate it most resembles Gruyere, Jarlsberg or Emmental.

Swiss cheese is also called "Emmentaler", and in the USA must be aged at least 60 days, with the distinctive holes that most Americans recognise this cheese by (read more about the holes).

Europeans often intensely dislike American Swiss cheese. They get the impression that is is rubbery and bland, compared to "real" Emmental. This is because very often American Swiss that you get in restaurants or fast food joints is made from processed cheese -- other cheeses melted together and reconstituted, with emulsifying salts with flavouring added to get the "Swiss" tang. An emulsifier isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you can taste the difference between a real cheese and a processed one.

It's worth hunting around for a real Swiss cheese, before you dismiss it completely as a crude American parody of a real cheese.

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