How did you get your name, Swiss?
Swiss cheese is the American generic name used to describe me since I resemble a cheese from Switzerland called Emmental or Emmentaler.
How would you describe yourself?
I am pale yellow in color, nutty in flavor, and have a medium-hard texture. Most people know me for my big “eyes”, more commonly referred to as holes.
You do have very pretty eyes, Swiss. How did you get them?
My eyes were formed by bacteria and gas while I was being fermented. There are three types of bacteria that are used in the production of Swiss cheese. During production, one of these bacteria consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide gas. When the milk solidifies into cheese, these bubbles form the holes that are my eyes.
Some say that eyes can tell you a lot about a cheese. What do you think about that?
It’s true, the larger the eyes in a Swiss cheese, the stronger it’s flavor. It all goes back to fermentation – longer fermentation time means more gas is produced (hence bigger holes) and the stronger the flavor. You might notice that pre-sliced Swiss cheese has smaller holes than non-sliced versions. This is because the large holes make it hard for mechanical slicers to cut through.
Can you be incorporated into a nutritious and delicious diet?
Absolutely! The USDA recommends that all Americans 9 years and older consume 3 cups of milk per day. 2 slices of me (1 ½ ounces) counts as 1 cup of milk and provides a whopping 12 grams of protein. I am also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus. However, I do have a considerable amount of saturated fat and cholesterol so I should be eaten in moderation.
Marlene Maltby is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Seattle, WA where she specializes in pediatric & adolescent nutrition, food sensitivities, vegetarian/vegan diets and enteral tube feeding.. Prior to becoming a RDN, she completed professional training in culinary arts.