Schabziger

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Schabziger known as Sapsago in the United States, is a Swiss cheese quite unlike any other. It is a hard, strong, almost fatless skimmed-milk cheese, coloured green with the aromatic clover Melilotus cærulea and pressed into small blunt cones weighing almost 100 g (4 oz). Schabziger is made in the Swiss canton of Glarus, and is sometimes called Glarner. It is usually eaten grated and diluted with butter, and is known as ‘the poor man’s cheese’ because a little goes a long way.

The manufacture of Schabziger is also highly individual. Skimmed milk, sometimes mixed with buttermilk, is soured and heated almost to boiling. This causes the lactalbumin proteins in the milk, as well as the usual casein, to coagulate. The curd is pressed into large blocks and left to ferment. This process produces butyric acid (a characteristic flavour of rancid butter) in addition to the lactic acid from the original souring. After a few weeks the cheese is dried, ground to powder, mixed with clover, and pressed to shape. Sometimes pressing is omitted and the green powder sold in packets as a condiment or sandwich filling.