Alpine or Mountain cheeses are characterized by their large size and long aging process. The milk comes from ruminant breeds that thrive in Alpine terrain and practice transhumance, a process of grazing in Alpine regions. The Pyrenées and Basque mountains are known for their sheep’s milk tommes while the French and Swiss Jura have a tradition of alpine cow’s milk cheeses. The history of mountain cheeses in the US is still fairly new but small makers like Sugarhouse Creamery are farming with alpine breeds on mountainous terrain that exudes alpine terroir. Jasper Hill farms Ayrshire cows thrive on the rocky terrain surrounding their Creamery and Cellars, and were inspired by classic Swiss Alpine cheeses like Appenzeller for their mountain cheese, Alpha Tolman. Alpine cheeses are fantastic snacking cheeses but they are also perfect melters! In regions of the Swiss Alps, it is common to see wheels of Alpine cheese exposed to direct heat, melted and scraped over potatoes, bread, and cured meat.
Down from the Mountain