Alpine cheese has a long tradition in the Land of the Alps. Generations of farmers have sought ways of preserving and refining milk, an especially valuable commodity. During the production of this alpine speciality, the water is extracted from the milk. Alpine cheese could therefore be described as “concentrated alpine milk”. It takes up to 15 litres of milk to produce one kilo of hard cheese.
Production of alpine cheese
During processing, milk is heated in large copper vats and rennet is added. This causes the milk to coagulate, producing whey and curd, which is then poured into moulds that give each cheese variety its characteristic appearance.
The shaped curd, or “green cheese”, is placed into a salt bath for different lengths of time depending on the size of the wheel and the type of cheese. Next comes the ripening process. The cheese is tended during ripening, which requires a great deal of manual work. Each block is regularly checked, turned and brushed with a brine solution.
The ripening process takes at least three months. Some cheeses are even matured for between 18 and 24 months. The resulting flavour nuances range from delicately nutty to robust and spicy. Alpine cheese is best matured at a constant temperature of between 7 and 15 degrees Celsius, with a high level of humidity.
The European Union protects numerous quality products and, as such, their natural diversity. The “Protected designation of origin“ (PDO) identifies foods which are produced in accordance with a recognised process entirely within a specified area using ingredients from this area.
What makes these products so unique is their geographical origin. In the Land of the Alps you will find “Tiroler Bergkäse” PDO and “Vorarlberger Bergkäse” PDO, for example. These also form an essential component of traditional alpine dishes such as Käsespätzle (cheese spätzle), Käsknöpfle (cheese button spätzle) and Kaspressknödeln (flat cheese dumplings).