Switzerland has a diversity of cheeses that are rarely found in the United States. We are lucky enough to work with an exporter of many of these wonderful cheeses.
The images below give you a first hand view of what is involved in the production of Gruyere Alpage. One of the families we get our cheese from is the Piller family (father and son pictured) who work in the area of Gruyère, just North of Charmey. The alp (a small cabin in the mountains dedicated to artisanal cheese production) is called "Alp Vounetz".
The alp belongs to the Pillers and they work there with their own cows from mid-June to mid-September. They produce just 2 wheels a day.
The A.O.C. designation demands that the cheese be made in a copper cauldron over an open fire. There are some technical advances such as the mechanical stirrer that slowly moves the milk around as it cooks.
Father and son test the curd to determine if it is ready to gather into the form.
As you can see, this is very physical work and demands quite a bit of strength -- something the Pillers are clearly not lacking.
Pulling the curds together into the muslin cloth.
A great photo of the steaming curds now in the round form that help define the final shape of the cheese.
A screw press is used to press the curds together into the final form. Just another year or so and we'll have our cheese!
A very happy cheesemaker.