Author Topic: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse  (Read 1480 times)

Offline Alpkäserei

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Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« on: July 12, 2012, 01:25:15 PM »
We produce a cheese that we call Oberlander-Käse.

Oberlander Käse is produced according to the methods and standards that have been handed down for countless generations in the Berner Oberland region of the Swiss Alps known as Berner Alpkäse. But Berner Alpkäse is a protected AOC in Switzerland, cheesemakers can only use this name if they apply certain standards to their cheese. We can follow all of these standards but one -we cannot produce our cheese only from the milk of cows which graze on the high mountain pastures of the Canton of Bern. But we can follow the other standards, our milk is only grass fed and fresh, and we use a special culture imported from Switzerland and produce our cheese with precisely the same methods.

This is a hard cheese, made from cow's milk.

The basic procedure is to take the evening milk, mostly skimmed, and mix with the fresh morning milk, These are heated to 90 degrees at which time the culture and rennet are added -the culture is whey taken from the previous batch of cheese. After setting for 30 minutes the cheese is cut to curds the size of a coffee bean, then heated to 120-126 degrees slowly over a period of 25 to 40 minutes, stirred to keep the curd from clumping, then stirred for another 5 - 15 minutes.

After the curd is cooked to just the right amount (timing is only a guideline, in reality you watch the curd) you remove it with the cloth -this is done by hand, and it is very hot to plunge your arms into whey that is 125 degrees!

The cheese is pressed for 24 hours, then brined for 24 hours. The brine is water fully saturated with salt.
After brining, the rind is washed often, with salt and Schmier, which is bacterial linens. This is continued until the rind is developed and then it sits for several months.

The standard is the Alpkäse can be aged for no less than 4 months, preferably at least 6 and best if past 9 months. If aged for more than 14 months, it is then reclassified as Höbelkäse, which is a delicacy.

This is an heirloom, artisinal cheese. It is a Swiss-type cheese and in reality is probably an older form and ancestor to the familiar Emmentaler.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser


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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 08:35:46 AM »
Just spent 2 weeks working with an exceptional cheesemaker in the Berner Oberland, and learned a lot.

Learned a few twists on the basic procedure, and learned a lot of things that can only be taught in person.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 05:55:20 AM »
Great to hear. I look forward to seeing, and hopefully tasting some of your final product!
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 11:16:52 PM »
Here are a few pictures from the Alp, so you can see some of the traditional cheesemaking in action. And let me tell you, this is some of the finest cheese you will ever find. These particular folks believe that the cheese should be aged a minimum of 2 years. A long time to be sure, but it yields an excellent depth of flavor that cannot be beat.

Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 11:23:27 PM »
One word: WOW!   Nice experience and ambiance! Would love a taste!


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Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2012, 05:07:34 AM »
I love that! Where exactly was that in Berner Oberland? Neighborhood of Brienz? I know they make some lovely cheeses there...(Despite of what the US FDA would think about that environment  ;D )
I've been in Austria in 2011 and visited an alp dairy which was fairly commercial. No way to communicate with the people unfortunately, but great cheese...
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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2012, 03:08:17 PM »
I's true that the Alp cheesemakers can get away with a lot more than we can here at home. However, it's also the case that their climate is a whole lot healthier and cleaner, and we simply have to take more precautions than they do in order to be safe.  Some of our regulations are stupid to be sure, but it really isn't fair to look at them and see their lack of 'cleanliness' and think we could get away with the same things here. In Indiana, we certainly could not. We just live in a hotter, wetter, dirtier environment than someone who is 6000 feet up in the mountains.

The Alp where I learned was above the little village of Kiental, and on the other side of the ridge stood the village of Frutigen,in clear weather they have a great outlook on the high Alps to the east and the Thunersee to the North. The peak of the Gehrihorn is just a short walk away. Brienz is really quite a ways off, in Swiss terms anyway, and hard to get to since there are 2 lakes in the way, and a few mountains.

Down in lower elevations there are some much more modern setups, and really quite a few of the Alps anymore are a little more modern than this one happens to be.

The folks I was with are actually some of the regions finest cheesemakers -their cheeses always make the top grade when the governing body who oversees the AOC (CASALP) checks them each year. The only problem they run into is occasional eyes in the Cheese. Eyes are not desired in Berner Alpkäse, and they show the growth of Prop. Shermanii, or a similar bacteria, which yields off-flavors that while desired in Emmentaler (the Emmental is a much warmer environment, located just to the north of the Berner Oberland) are certainly not wanted in Alpkäse. They won't sell the cheese if it has got eyes in it. They get eyes because on occasion a cheese gets too warm during the first period of aging, when it is kept in the Alp-house, but after 10 days of washing, it is moved to a better-controlled cellar that is built into the side of the mountain. (they want their cheese to age between 55-60 degrees F or thereabouts with as high humidity as they can get)

And those cheeses on the shelf from Austria, I can tell you right now that they have eyes! look at the slight swell... We have some cheeses aging right now that certainly have got a few small eyes in them, but hopefully they will be OK.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2012, 02:20:15 AM »
Okay, you're right, I didn't take the different climates into consideration. I've been several holidays at the Brienzer See and the Thuner See, lovely neighborhood.
Yes, the Alp cheeses they make in the dairy in Austria that I visited have eyes....
- Herman -

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 12:58:07 PM »
But different climates aside, the USDA, FDA, EPA, and IBOAH (or whatever State equivalent) all place some ridiculous regulations over our heads. But I'm sure we all know about that.

Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: Berner Alpkäse AOC and Oberlander-Käse
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2012, 12:56:34 AM »
Great pictures, thanks for sharing!
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