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.