Gruyere is a hard, yellow Swiss-type cheese. However, it has very few, if any, holes unlike how we typically think of Swiss cheese. Gruyere and other Swiss cheeses are a popular addition to homemade mac and cheese, soups, fondues, and sandwiches.
The flavor of gruyere tends to change as it ages. When it is young it’s sweet, creamy, and nutty. As the cheese ages, it becomes more earthy, sharper, and saltier with a harder somewhat grainy texture.
Gruyere is an excellent melting cheese. In addition, it’s often kept grated on the table to add to pasta and salads, similar to parmesan’s usage.
Types of Gruyere
While traditionally, gruyere cheese is Swiss, other countries have their own takes on this type of cheese.
French Style Gruyere Cheese
While French-style gruyere cheese is fairly similar to the Swiss version, it does have some alterations.
Generally speaking, it is sweeter with a less nutty flavor than the Swiss. In addition, it somewhat ironically, has more holes than its Swiss counterpart.
Austrian Style Gruyere Cheese
Here, the gruyere cheese is spicier than either the Swiss or French styles. It’s also nutty and again, like the French style, has more holes than the Swiss.
Italian Style Gruyere Cheese
Italian style gruyere tastes milky, nutty, and milder than Swiss gruyere. It has a smooth texture with no holes or cracks.
How to Eat Gruyere
Gruyere can be eaten in multiple ways. It’s commonly eaten in fondue, melted into sandwiches, and grated over salads and pasta.
Fondue, perhaps unsurprisingly, originated in Switzerland. While typically and traditionally made with gruyere cheese, currently other types of cheeses are often found in fondue.
Here, cheese is melted in a communal pot to be shared with the table or group of people. Sometimes wine is melted along with the cheese. Bread is then dipped on long skewers or forks and eaten as a meal.
When melted gruyere cheese is smooth and creamy with a nutty and salty flavor.
On a Sandwich
The two most common types of gruyere cheese sandwiches might be grilled cheese and Croque Monsieur. The latter is really just a fancy way of saying a hot ham and cheese sandwich.
In both instances, you might want to use an older gruyere cheese. When melted onto a sandwich, you generally want an earthier, sharper flavor as opposed to a sweeter one. It goes particularly well with the saltiness of the ham.
Grated on Salads and Pasta
With its nutty flavor and ability to melt, gruyere is often compared to parmesan cheese. This gives it the ability to function in ways that parmesan does, namely grated on pasta and in salads.
The sharp nutty flavor brings a nice warmth to the pasta and ends up slightly melting into just-cooked pasta.
To Sum Up
Gruyere cheese is sweet, creamy, and nutty when it’s young. However, as it ages, it takes on a more complex flavor. It becomes more earthy, tangy, and salty while still retaining some of its nuttiness as it ages and hardens.
While some other countries have their own attempts at Swiss gruyere, they are family similar. However, the tastes and texture may vary slightly.
In addition, gruyere is fairly versatile. It’s commonly eaten as fondue, as part of sandwiches, and sprinkled on pasta and salad. It’s a delicious and useful cheese to keep on hand.