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A Year Of Cheese Holidays, Starting With National Swiss Cheese Day

January 2nd is National Swiss Cheese Day. After a brief explanation of “Swiss” cheese, we’ll head into all of the year’s cheese holidays, below.

> The history of cheese.

> The different types of cheese: a glossary.

Swiss cheese is the generic name used in the U.S. for several related varieties of cheese, inspired by those made in Switzerland.

Emmental (photo #1), which has large holes (properly known as eyes*), is the original cheese from Switzerland that Americans think of as “Swiss” cheese. Not all kinds of cheeses made in Switzerland have them.

In fact, there are some 450 known Swiss cheeses, classified into five categories:
The categories of Swiss cheese, and examples, include:

  • Extra-Hard: Sbrinz
  • Hard: Emmental (or Emmenthal, Emmenthaler or Emmentaler), Gruyère/Greyerzer (photo #4), Sapsago, Vacherin Fribourgeois
  • Semi-Hard: Appenzeller (photo #3), Bündner Bergkäse, Mutschli, Raclette, Tête de Moine, Tilsiter
  • Semi-Soft: Vacherin Fribourgeois (photo #5), Vacherin Mont d’Or (photo #5)
  • Soft: Gala (fresh cheese), Tomme Vaudoise
    Cow’s milk is used in 99% of the cheeses produced (the same goes for Swiss-style cheeses made in the U.S.).

    When émigré cheesemakers from Switzerland arrived in the U.S., some made Emmenthaler-style cheeses which they sold as “Swiss cheese” (photo #2).

    As a result, most Americans think of “Swiss cheese” as the cheese with big holes.

    If you’re a “Swiss cheese” lover, try some authentic Emmental and taste the difference.


  • January 2nd: National Swiss Cheese Day
  • January 19th: World Quark Day
  • January 20th: National Cheese Lover’s Day

  • February: National Fondue Month
  • February 13th: National Cheddar Day

  • March 5th: National Cheese Doodle Day

  • April: National Grilled Cheese Month
  • April 9th: National Pimento Cheese Day
  • April 11th: National Cheese Fondue Day
  • April 11th: National Poutine Day
  • April 17th: National Cheese Ball Day
  • April 20th: International Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day
  • April 20th: National Cheddar Fries Day

  • May 18th: National Cheese Soufflé Day

  • June 4th: National Cheese Day
  • June 25th: National Goat Cheese Day

  • July 14th: National Mac & Cheese Day
  • July 25th: National Wine & Cheese Day
  • July 29th: National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day
  • July 30th: National Cheesecake Day (savory cheesecake recipes)

  • August: National Goat Cheese Month

  • September 5th: National Cheese Pizza Day
  • September 15th: National Cheese Toast Day
  • September 18th: National Cheeseburger Day
  • September 20th: National Queso† Day
  • September 20th: National String Cheese Day

  • October 9th: National Moldy Cheese Day
  • October 15th: National Cheese Curd Day

  • November: National Fun With Fondue Month
    *Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmental cheese: Streptococcus thermophilis, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacter shermani. In a late stage of cheese production, P. shermani consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria and releases carbon dioxide gas. This forms the bubbles that appear to be “holes” when the cheese is sliced. These bacteria are also used in the production of some other cheeses from Switzerland. The cheese industry calls these holes or tunnels “eyes.” Swiss cheese without eyes is known as “blind.”
    †Queso is a cheese dip that is historically baked (queso fundido/queso flameado). In recent decades, it has been made into a pasteurized cheese dip and sold in jars like salsa. The recipe in the link is a muenster dip but you can substitute Cheddar, Jack, or a Hispanic melting cheese.


    Emmethal, Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese
    [1] Emmenthaler cheese from Switzerland (photo © DeLaurenti).

    [2] Swiss émigrés to the U.S. made cheese according to the Emmenthaler recipe they knew, but sold the cheese as “Swiss cheese” (photo © Wisconsin Cheese).

    Appenzeller Swiss Cheese
    [3] Appenzeller cheese (photo © Artisanal Cheese).

    Slice Of Swiss Le Gruyere Cheese
    [4] Gruyère. Swiss Gruyère is the original, with A.O.P. protection. Gruyère is also made on the other side of the border in France, but it must be labeled “French Gruyèere” (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    Vacherin Fribourgeois Swiss Cheese
    [5] Vacherin Fribourgeois. The canton of Fribourg (also the canton of Freiburg) is located in western Switzerland. Vacherin refers to a type of soft Swiss cow’s milk cheese. There are also French vacherins (photos #5 and #6 © Cheeses From Switzerland).

    Vacherin Mont d'Or Swiss Cheese
    [6] Silky and luscious Vacherin Mont d’Or is crafted from cow’s milk produced during the fall and winter months when the herds spend their days munching straw and fodder instead of grazing on pasture. When ripe the cheese is spoonable/spreadable. Mont d’Or is a mountain that lies between the Swiss canton of Vaudo and the French Jura.



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