Originating in Switzerland, more precisely in the Emme Valley, Emmental is a cooked pressed cheese made from raw cow milk. However, its equivalent in France, with the same name, is divided into two distinct categories: French Emmental for everyday consumption and lower quality that is mainly shredded; Emmental with a superior quality label denoting Emmental de Savoie and Est-Central Grand Cru Emmental, the latter produced in the Franche-Comté region. The mild, fruity, and subtle aroma of this impressive cheese makes it an essential ingredient in any kitchen.
Although it can be found throughout the year in supermarkets, the best months for Emmental are between May and October. The shredded or sliced Emmental cheese found in supermarkets are mainly from cheese produced in France and its flavor is less typical. If purchased from a specialty cheese store, choose slices from a wheel with a smooth, pale yellow rind and evenly distributed holes the size of a walnut. To guarantee its origin and quality, Emmental de Savoie has a red marking on the underside of the wheel, and Est-Central Grand Cru Emmental has a Label Rouge stamp.
Emmental cheese can be shredded to melt on tarts, cut into cubes for salads, or sliced to make grilled (toasted) ham and cheese sandwiches, but also used to make savory shortbread cookies, vegetable clafoutis, or a cream to serve with meat and fish.
Store Emmental cheese in the lowest part of the refrigerator in its original packaging or covered with plastic wrap (cling film), but never with aluminum foil, because this will increase the risk of mold forming, or of drying out.
Although relatively high in fat, Emmental has a high protein and calcium content, but with minimum sodium (0.3 g).
Besides industrially produced French Emmental, there are traditionally made farmhouse Emmentals, among them Emmental de Savoie (PGI), Est-Central Grand Cru Emmental, and Swiss Emmental (PDO).