Cheese, gruyere

Fun Facts

  1. For many, the mild, slightly nutty flavor of Gruyère is the perfect addition to a steaming bowl of French onion soup or a ham sandwich, but for the medieval peasants who first created it, the flavor was secondary to matters of survival and location.
  2. Gruyère resulted from the historic collision of food scarcity and a mountainous geography, yielding a distinct and rigorous cheese-making process.
  3. In fact, all cheese types—there are now more than 1,400–initially arose due to the unique constraints forced by geography and the human effort to preserve the valuable commodity that is milk, says food scientist Paul Kindstedt, of the University of Vermont.
  4. Cheese recipes initially arose as a way to preserve the nutritional value in milk for longer periods of time, so the number of types primarily reflects the number of struggling pre-industrial communities that successfully devised a method to achieve this given their local climate, resources and terrain.
  5. To get around these limitations, Gruyère makers created an elaborate cutting technique “that was designed to produce a very small, pea-sized curd particle” to expel water, Kindstedt said.

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