This famous Alpine cheese, which originated in Switzerland but is also now produced in France, has a firm, pliable texture and a nutty, slightly sweet flavour, and is popularly used in dishes such as fondues and gratins. It is made in large rounds which, if left uncut, will keep extremely well for over a year. The ivory or pale-yellow interior has fewer (and smaller) holes than Switzerland’s best-known cheese, emmental. Neither should gruyère be confused with other cooked, pressed Alpine cheeses such as comté and beaufort.
Gruyère is at its best from mid-November to mid-April. Swiss gruyère - labelled as Le Gruyère Switzerland is protected and will have the word ‘Switzerland’ stamped in red across the top and bottom of its rind. If you prefer a milder flavour, look for gruyère doux, which will have been matured for around five months, rather than gruyère vieux, which can be aged for up to 18 months.
Article by Felicity Cloake