Pronunciation: [groo-YEHR; gree-YEHR]
Swiss Gruyère is named for the valley of the same name in the canton of Fribourg. Though Switzerland now has AOC appellation status for the name Gruyère, the word also is used for cheeses made in other nations including Austria, Denmark, Germany and the United States. However, if and when the Swiss obtain the European Union's protected designation of origin status, other European countries will have to stop using the name. Gruyère has a semihard to hard texture that's very dense, compact and supple. The hard rind is golden brown, the interior ranges from ivory to medium yellow with occasional eyes. It has a complex flavor that's creamy, fruity, nutty, earthy and mushroomy. With the exception of French Gruyère, most Gruyère-style cheeses are not considered on a par with the Swiss original (though there are farmstead-produced exceptions). That's because most non-Swiss versions are factory-produced with pasteurized milk, whereas AOC standards for Swiss Gruyères say they can only be made from the raw milk of two milkings of cows fed only grass or hay (no silage) and must be prepared in copper pots. There are three types of Gruyère AOC: Classic (ripened for a minimum of 5 months), Réserve (10 to 16 months) and d'Alpage, which is made only from April through October from milk produced by cows grazing in high Alpine pastures.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.