Mountain Pasture Sbrinz

One of Switzerland’s most famous cheeses, Sbrinz has a long history; the origins of its production are thought to date back to Roman times. It has been produced and sold as Sbrinz since 1530, the year from which documents in Bern’s public record office report the sale of a huge quantity of cheese, carried by a caravan that set out for Italy from the central Swiss town of Brienz, most probably the origin of the cheese’s name.
Before that period it was known as Schwyzer or Spalen, and was commonly sold under those names outside of central Switzerland. The mule track that crossed the passes of Grimsel and Gries on the way to Domodossola, one of the most trodden routes, is known as “Via Sbrinz” .

The raw milk from the evening milking is mixed with the morning milk, one of which is partially skimmed. The milk is processed in traditional copper caldrons and curdled at a temperature of 32°C (90°F). The curd is broken with a tool called a lira (lyre), carefully reheated until it reaches a temperature between 54°C and 57°C (129-136°F), then firmly pressed into round molds. The Sbrinz forms are then soaked in brine for 15 to 20 days. The exudation phase follows, and then an initial drying. This lasts for around four weeks, during which a natural film of grease forms on the cheese’s surface. This is rubbed off with a cloth once a week. Sbrinz is traditionally aged vertically, on pine boards in cellars. The large cheeses age for at least 16 months. The best cheeses are left for 24 months and called Sbrinz AOC, while the others are consumed after 18-20 months of aging. These cheeses are then cut into thin shavings using a special slicer, common around the country.

The project was set up to promote high-quality production, carried out exclusively in alpine dairies during the summer. The cows, mostly Brown Swiss, graze only on the best pastures.

Production area
Obwalden and Nidwalden cantons, central Switzerland

Presidium supported by
Coop Switzerland

Supported by

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Swiss Alps (Nidwalden)
Svizzera

Traditional Emmentaler

Emmentaler takes its name from the Emme valley in Bern canton, where dairy production can be traced back to the 12th century. Here, dairy production was supported by abundant pastures, pure, cool waters and the tradition of Kühwesen, a custom in which ownership of family farmhouses was passed on to the youngest son, forcing the other brothers to pursue alternatives, such as cheese production. Under these conditions, an important cheesemaking tradition developed, becoming a guarantee of artisanal expertise for “difficult” cheeses such as Emmentaler. The difficulty lies in the long and complex production technique, as well as the effort of handling the large forms the Emmentaler is shaped into, often around 100 kg.

The established Emmentaler Presidium supports an old method of production. The particularly long aging period (at least 12 months) in natural cellars is an example of the implementation of Slow Food philosophy.

Production area
Emme valley, Bern canton

Presidium supported by
Coop Svizzera

 

Raw Milk Vacherin Fribourgeois

The Vacherin Fribourgeois is a semi-hard and semi-cooked cheese made in the Canton of Fribourg, not to be confused with Vacherin Mont d’Or, a creamy, small sized cheese produced in the Jura Region.
The Vacherin Fribourgeois of the Presidium is produced in some areas of the Canton, both on Alpine pastures and in the lowlands, using exclusively raw milk. It was initially an alpine pasture cheese, produced at the beginning of the hot season, when the amount of milk available was not sufficient to produce the region’s most important cheese, the famous Gruyère.

In the 1950’s, for reasons of hygiene, heat-treatments of the milk became more and more practiced in the production of the Vacherin Fribourgeois, causing the loss of traditional knowledge and the impoverishment of its specific organoleptic features. Nowadays, of the 2,500 tons of Vacherin Fribourgeois AOP produced annually, only 2% is prepared with raw milk. The Presidium was created to protect the Vacherin Fribougeois produced exclusively with raw milk coming mountain pastures in the summers and from the few remaining dairies in the valley in the winter.

Production area
Fribourg canton

Presidium supported by
Coop Switzerland

 

Zincarlin da la Vall da Mücc

Zincarlin is produced in the mountains on both sides of the Italian-Swiss border near Lake Como: its tradition is linked to the mountain area between Lake Como and Lake Lugano and between Lombardy in Italy and Canton Ticino in Switzerland. On the Italian side the cheese remains little more than a faded memory in the provinces of Como and Varese, but even if the name of the cheese is the same, the production technique is different from the one used in the Swiss Muggio Valley.
The Zincarlin Presidium is a raw milk cheese produced on the Swiss side of the Generoso Mountain, in Canton Ticino. Its shape resembles an upturned cup and it weighs between 200 and 400 grams when fresh, depending on the quantity of paste available.
One of its distinctive features is that the curds are never broken: the curd obtained by lactic and rennet coagulation, is left to drain for a day and a night and in some cases, cheesemakers assist in draining the whey by making a cross-shaped cut in the curd twelve hours after the rennet has been added to fresh milk. Then the curd is left to drain through a cloth, up until it reaches the right firmness. The draining time depends on the weather, and if the paste doesn’t reach the right consistency, it might be pressed for some hours.
After draining is complete, the mass is energetically kneaded with pepper and salt and then molded into shape by hand.

When this Presidium was set up, Zincarlin scarcely existed any longer: the lack of facilities as well as the amount of work and energy required to produce the cheese, pushed the Muggio Valley cheesemakers to sell fresh cheese almost exclusively, leaving matured Zincarlin as a family tradition.

Thanks to Slow Food Switzerland, the Presidium, the first in the country, has managed to recover the traditional version of the cheese, aged for at least two months, produced using raw milk and treated with white wine during the first fifteen days of aging.

Production Area
Muggio Valley, Ticino Canton

Presidium supported by
Association of the Municipalities of Valle di Muggio, Val Mara and Salorino Region, Coop Switzerland

Last modified: 23 Sep 2021
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