Emmental (Emmentaler, Emmenthal, or often known as "Swiss cheese") is a yellow, medium-hard Swiss cheese that originated in the area around Emmental, Canton Bern. It has a savory but mild taste. While the denomination "Emmentaler Switzerland" is protected, "Emmentaler" alone is not; similar cheeses of other origins, especially from France, Bavaria and Finland, are widely available and sold by that name. Emmental dates to the time of ancient history.
Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmental: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. Historically, the holes were a sign of imperfection, and until modern times, cheese makers would try to avoid them. Emmental cheese is used in a variety of dishes, particularly in gratins, and fondue, where it is mixed with Gruyère.
Several varieties of Emmental have certification, including:
- Emmentaler Switzerland AOC has been registered since 2000 as an appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC). In 2013, it was replaced by the appellation d'origine protégée (AOP) certification. This original Emmental is produced in small rural dairies with raw cow's milk, adding only natural ingredients (water, salt, natural starter cultures and rennet); preservatives or ingredients from genetically modified organisms are not allowed. The cheese is produced in a round shape with a natural rind, and aged in traditional cellars for a minimum of four months. This Emmental has three age profiles: classic, aged at least four months, reserve, aged at least eight months, and Premier Cru, aged at least fourteen months.
- Allgäuer Emmentaler, from Bavaria, Germany, has PDO status
- Emmental de Savoie, from Savoie, France, has PGI status
- Emmental français est-central from Franche-Comté, France, also has PGI status