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Appenzeller

Pronunciation: [AP-pent-tsehl-ler]

This whole-milk cow's cheese is named for an eastern Swiss canton (a state in the Swiss confederation). Of the more than 70 Swiss dairies that produce Appenzeller, only three make it with raw milk—the rest use pasteurized. This cheese has a hard rind that ranges in color from pale yellow to golden brown. The interior is ivory to pale yellow with a scattering of irregularly sized eyes. Appenzeller's distinctively spicy, fruity and tangy aroma and flavor are in great part the result of Sulz, in which it's initially soaked and with which it receives regular brushings throughout ripening. Every cheesemaker has a different Sulz recipe (some with as many as 20 ingredients), which can include wine, cider, yeast, herbs, spices and salt. Appenzeller is marketed at three ripening levels: Classic (silver label)—3 to 4 months; Surchoix (gold label)—4 to 6 months; and Extra (black and gold label)—a minimum of 6 months.