If you are new to cheese making, please read the page on Beginning Cheese Making for suggestions of easy cheeses to start with.
Swiss cheese is not one of the simpler cheeses to make. The following recipe is still being refined. I believe it is more complex than absolutely necessary, but have not yet performed all the experiments to know how to best streamline it. The eyes were too small and the bite too mild when I made it. If you have experience making Swiss cheese, let us know the lessons your have learned.
One of the major differences between Swiss and other cheeses is that a unique bacterium, Propionibacterium shermanii, is used to ferment the cheese after it is formed into a wheel. This bacterium produces carbon dioxide (hence the bubbles or “eyes” in the cheese), and propionic acid which gives Swiss its unique bite.
Ingredients to turn a gallon of milk into a pound of Swiss cheese:
- 1 gallon fresh milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh yogurt (with equal parts L. bulgaricus and S. thermophiles.)
- 1/4 teaspoon Propionibacterium shermanii culture
- 1/2 tablet Junket Rennet
- Warm milk to 95 F.
- Add small amount of milk to the yogurt and P. shermanii cultures, stir to mix, whisk thoroughly into milk, let set 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dissolve ½ tablet rennet in 1/4 cup fresh cool water
- Stir the dissolved rennet into the inoculated milk, cover undisturbed for about 30 minutes until a clean break is achieved. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, use more rennet next time.
- Cut the curd by making 1/8th inch vertical cuts in two directions to make long 1/8th inch strips. Then whisk the strips with a pastry whisk so that all levels of the curds are cut. Final curd pieces should be the size of a wheat grain. Maintain temperature at 95 F.
- Hold the temp at 95 F for 30-40 more minutes, then slowly increase the temperature with stirring to 125 F. Hold at 125 F for an additional 45 minutes.
- Test for completed cooking by squeezing a handful of curds into a ball. If it readily breaks up when rubbed between palms, it is ready.
- Let curds settle, dip off some whey.
- Dip out the curds into a clean handkerchief suspended in a strainer over a catch bowl.
- Pick up the four corners of the handkerchief, dip into whey to loosen curds, then set in cheese hoop.
- Press for five minutes, remove, replace cloth, and press for three more hours.
- Rinse cloth in saturated salt water, replace in press for three more hours.
- Repeat rinsing of cloth in salt water and pressing for three additional hours.
- Repeat rinsing of cloth in salt water and press overnight.
- Prepare saturated salt water bath: dissolve 5 Tbl salt in 16 oz water (some salt remains undissolved). Pour into a plastic container slightly wider than the cheese, cool the salt solution down to 45 F. Float cheese for two days in this 45 F brine, turning each day, sprinkle salt on surface of cheese. [NOTE: I have recently received an email that suggests this time is too long, that the cheese may become too salty. I am not certain about the finer points of brining the cheese, and am eager to hear any information others may have on the subject.]
- Finally, place cheese on board at 50-55 F, 90% humidity. Wipe and dry board daily for 10 days. Wipe the cheese with salt soaked cloth and turn.
- Rub the cheese with salt at end of 10 days.
- Move cheese to 70 F, 70-80 % humidity.
- Wipe with clean salt water 2x per week, continue for a month and a half. Cheese should puff up as characteristic holes form.
- Final curing at 40-45 F takes 4 months to a year.