Everyone loves cheese.
The salty, umami flavor and fat it contains is not only a marvel for our taste buds, it also releases endorphins, which make us all feel good after a bite.
Whether it’s a generous spread of creamy Brie on a piece of bread for breakfast, the sticky goodness of melted mozzarella on pizza for lunch, or a sprinkle of shredded parmesan on spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, we should all treat ourselves to a toast that highlights this creamy goodness.
Your first introduction to cheese may be in cartoons – the big yellow wedge filled with big holes that Jerry from Tom and Jerry are often tempted by.
Many people refer to it simply as Swiss cheese, but its real name is Emmental.
A brief account of Emmental’s very long history
There are many Swiss cheeses – as in those made in Switzerland – such as Gruyere, Fontina, Alter Schweizer and Tete de Moine.
As mentioned, the most popular is Emmentaler (alternative names: Emmental, Emmenthaler), which originates from a town called Emmental in Switzerland.
The first mention of this was in 1293, making this one of the oldest in the world.
It was traditionally made by gently heating unpasteurized cow’s milk in giant copper kettles with rennet, then cast in humongous wheels and salted vigorously.
Each wheel measuring approx. 36 inches in diameter and 6 inches in thickness, weighs as much as 200 pounds.
The walnut-sized holes are due to gases (mainly carbon dioxide) that are released by the bacterial cultures that are added to the mixture, forming air pockets and continuing to grow during the aging process.
There are three types, based on the length of the fermentation:
Classic – four months, the minimum time for aging
Reserve – eight months
• Premier Cru – 18 months
The name ‘Emmentaler Schweiz’ was awarded the PDO or Protected Designation of Origin, a certification that protects the origin, tradition and especially the quality of this cheese.
You can find other varieties from Germany (Allgauer), France (de Savole and Francais Est-Central) and even in the US, but as PDO guidelines are strictly noted, these are specifically stamped on the crust so you know exactly what you are getting .
• Place of origin: Emme River Valley, Bern, Switzerland
• Source of milk: cow
• Color: Light yellow
Texture: Semi-hard with large, irregular holes
Aroma: Sweet, some say it’s like freshly cut grass
Taste: Nutty, buttery and slightly fruity
Eat Emmental: Popular recipes with the classic Swiss cheese
This semi-hard cheese is salty, not so salty and completely mild, so it goes well with different recipes.
But what gourmand loves about this is its melting.
Sure, you can throw a thin slice of ham in a sandwich and have it for lunch, but pop it all in a grid for a few minutes and it’s a sticky indulgence.
Here are a few dishes that Emmental is good at and / or with …
• Many grilled cheese sandwiches include our featured ingredient. Some add two or three other crisp flavors with more complex flavors like Pecorino and Gorgonzola.
Fondue with this special Swiss variant goes well with many different foods such as fruit, pretzels and smoked meats.
• Vegetable Gratin gets richer and creamier with a sprinkle of grated Emmental instead of the milkier taste of Mozzarella or the salty Colby Jack.
Spinach and artichoke dip will be better with this Swiss wonder as the taste of the vegetables will be highlighted more.
• When it comes to wine, Chardonnay is the best pairing. But this will also be perfect with whites like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, reds like Pinot Noir and Lambrusco, fruity wines like Chianti and Zinfandel and sponges like Prosecco and Cava.
But there are times when you open your fridge and do not have this (and no rating – it’s so good, it’s understandable if you keep stopping it between breads), or maybe your local grocery or deli just has it not when you visited.
Do not panic, there are several possible substitutes for this.
Here are some listed under three categories: those that taste and feel almost the same, acceptable substitutes, and those for people who cannot have cheese.
Emmental’s closest relatives
✓ Taste, color, structure, meltability, milk source
X firmness, place of origin
It is somewhat associated with our highlighted ingredient because Hann Nielsen, the Danish man who developed this, mastered the best techniques of traveling across Europe in the 1800s.
Havarti is his version of the distinctive Swiss marvel except that it has smaller holes.
The large craters were considered an imperfection that needed to be removed or at least improved.
Because it tastes almost the same and also melts quite well, this can be laid down in fondues and sandwiches. The substitution ratio is 1: 1.
✓ Taste, structure, firmness, meltability, milk source
X-color, place of origin
Many refer to this Norwegian creation as Swiss baby cheese because it is almost made similar to Emmental.
This semi-solid cheese has a buttery texture, mild taste with sweet undertones, great meltability and even has characteristic holes!
Apart from the fact that it is made in Norway, the only other difference is that it has a darker, sunnier yellow.
For fondue or baking, the ratio of replacing one to the other is 1: 1. This is also a good sub for sandwiches, salads and cheese platters.
✓ Taste, texture, meltability, place of origin
X Firmness, color, milk source
Another well-liked cheese from Switzerland, the sharp seaweed of Gruyere, is the perfect accompaniment to Emmental’s buttered cream in fondues.
Because the milk is not heated until curd, it retains the salty delicacy that changes but gets much better during aging.
The ratio of using young Gruyere instead of our selected foods is 1: 1. Although more mature Gruyers tend to be harder, it still melts beautifully. However, it will have a sharper, more tangy taste, so you can reduce the amount to ¾ cup, especially with baked goods.
✓ Meltability, firmness, color, milk source
X Aroma, Texture, Place of Origin
Greetings from the beautiful Massif du Jura in France, this artisanal creation is a sensation for your taste buds – dense, salty, caramel-like and buttery.
Two types of Comte are produced, depending on the season and the food the cows are fed: a beautiful yellow, fruity from summer and a light yellow, milder in winter.
You can swap a cup of Emmental with a cup of Comte in fondues because they have the same meltability. You can do the same if you serve charcuterie because they are both semi-tough.
✓ Meltability, firmness, color, milk source
X Aroma, Texture, Place of Origin
Originally from a town of the same name in Somerset, England, Cheddar is one of the most popular cheeses as it is now produced worldwide.
With dozens of varieties, apart from the fact that taste, color, firmness and other important qualities differ from one type to another.
The good replacement for Emmental is the original from Somerset with a BOB from West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.
Use ¾ cup of Cheddar for each cup in the recipe because this is much sharper, saltier and more smoky. If you get that age, the one that has an almost orange hue is reduced to half a cup.
The Runner Ups
If you are not planning to go out soon and trust what you have in your fridge, the following might just work.
The stated measurement is for one cup of Emmental required in the recipe.
Use ¾ cup, especially for baked bread, dishes or in charcuterie plates
Use 1 cup for fondue, pizzas and even for salads, especially if you have the fresh variety.
Use 1 cup specifically for fondue or as a pizza topping.
• American style cheddar
Because this is one of the most common cheeses and is often available in most homes, it can pass as an Emmental substitute. Use ¾ cup as a substitute for cooking, baking and dipping.
Are you vegan? Allergic? Lactose intolerant?
You do not have to worry about not enjoying a particular dish anymore because you can not have cheese.
Vegan flavors are available in the market these days.
Violife, made with starch, coconut oil and salt, is a brand that can be used especially for cooking due to its taste, structure and meltability.
Vegan Cheddar is another vegan option that is often served in charcuterie plates. This can even be made from scratch at home using nuts like cashew and agar-agar.
You can still enjoy emmental-based dishes even without it!
This Swiss cheese is not that hard to find, to be honest.
All delicacies will definitely have this, and most groceries can have a brand or two on the shelves.
But just in case it is impossible to get one at the moment in need, any of those mentioned on the list will act as an appropriate replacement.
The lucky thing is that at the end of the day you can still have cheese in your meal even if you do not have Emmental or cannot have it.
And that means feeling really satisfied – both your body and soul – after a cheese-filled bowl.
Last updated on March 28, 2021 by Andy Wang