We have been planning to visit the traditional and authentic Swiss cheese factory for very long time, but never could get on to it. Finally, one summer morning we decided to head on to the one closest to our home and one of the most famous one. And, it turned out to be the original Swiss cheese making in a chalet from 1200s that started it all.. Emmental AOP from the valley near Berne. It is a pleasant drive especially once you are off the highway and already seeing the greenery all around.
One would expect that the Cheese factory would be a relatively big setup with all modern machinery and big buildings all around, but it turned out to a very authentic Swiss Chalet. Emmental cheese is the one that made Swiss cheese famous all over the world - that now it's produced with the same name in different countries.
Of course, the original one has many distinct characteristics (20 to be precise) starting with the the fact that Swiss cows in the "Emme" valley (where this cheese comes from) near Berne can eat only the fresh grass or the dry hay (in winters) and the tractors mowing the grass has specific horsepower and can run only at a specific speed. Well, that's just the beginning for you to imagine how controlled is the entire process, and a number mark on each final product even allows one to trace which dairy actually produced that cheese. One can participate in a cheese making session with a small group and one of the family members explains the entire process very patiently.
After the cheese making session, we participated in the guided factory tour, and one can see the entire process on a large scale as well. Our guide took us through the entire process and followed by a cheese tasting also. We also learnt that one can actually make their own "Stöckli" cheese - i.e. process 200 liters of milk into cheese in Stöckli (a Swiss farmyard building) from 1741. After 4 months ageing time, you can get your own cheese (only possible to an address within Switerland). We did not opt for it, but it is certainly a great idea for a big family or for special private events.
After the factory visit, we were really hungry and parked ourselves in a fantastic restaurant next to the cheese making chalet, while waiting for our own small piece of cheese that we made with the family. Its a fantastic activity with the kids and the adults and our parents also got a taste of the authentic Swiss life. And learnt that "Not all cheese with holes is Swiss cheese and not all Swiss cheese has holes"..!