Swiss Cheese Day
Also known as
National Swiss Cheese Day
annually on January 2nd
Food & Drink
Snacks & Desserts
Swiss cheese, perhaps the world's best-known holey cheese, is made in the United States and resembles and is inspired by Emmental or Emmentaler AOP cheese, a cheese made in Switzerland. Swiss Cheese Day can be used to celebrate American Swiss cheese, Emmental cheese, or all varieties of cheese made in Switzerland. There are about 450 varieties of Swiss cheese, with Gruyère being one of the most prominent ones besides Emmental.
Authentic Emmental cheese is a yellow, medium-hard cheese from the Emmental Valley area in the west-central part of Switzerland, not far from Bern, the country's capital. Often made in chalets in the mountains, into wheels that may weigh 200 pounds, it is aged for four to twelve months. Almost always made from unpasteurized cow's milk, it ranges in flavor from mildly nutty to fruity, from subtly sweet to subtly acidic, depending on how long it is aged. Its holes, called eyes, are irregular in shape, ranging from about the size of a pea to that of a walnut.
When cheesemakers who had immigrated to America from Switzerland made cheese, one of the cheeses they made was similar to Emmental cheese, and they sold it as "Swiss cheese." American Swiss cheese today is made with either pasteurized milk or unpasteurized milk that's aged for at least 60 days after being made into cheese to conform with FDA rules, which ultimately changes its flavor. Sold sliced or shredded, the American version is generally milder in flavor, paler, and shinier. Unlike its Swiss counterpart, there isn't a rind, the holes are more consistent in size, and it is aged for only about four months.
How to Observe Swiss Cheese Day
The best way to celebrate is to eat Emmental cheese, authentic Swiss cheese that is a superior representation of its American imitator. But, eating the Americanized version is another great way to celebrate. Eat it plain or have it in a Reuben, a French dip, or a mushroom Swiss burger, top French onion soup with it, or use it in another recipe. You could also eat and celebrate any cheese from Switzerland, not just Emmental or the American version. You could even use the day to make your own Swiss or Emmental cheese!