Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Gruyère the finest and best known of all Swiss cheeses, has been made since the 12th century. Its reputation as one of the great European table cheeses was established by the 16th century; and 19th-century chefs gave it further renown as one of the world’s great cooking cheeses (see e.g. fondue).

Within Switzerland, the use of the name Gruyère is strictly controlled, as are its other specifications and the manufacturing process. Compared with emmental, the other well-known Swiss cheese, Gruyère is smaller; usually 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lb) in weight and 50 cm (20") in diameter. It has fewer and smaller (little larger than pea size) ‘eyes’. It is subject to a certain amount of surface ripening during its long maturing period (typically a year), which gives it a more nutty flavour.