why are there holes in swiss cheese

Why Are There Holes In Swiss Cheese?

Do you ever wonder why there are holes in Swiss cheese? It’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? Why would anyone want to make cheese with holes in it?

Today, we’re going to take a look at the history and science behind Swiss cheese and find out why are there holes in swiss cheese?

Why Are There Holes In Swiss Cheese?

The holes in Swiss cheese are actually a happy accident. In the early days of cheese making, milk was stored in wooden barrels.

Over time, these barrels would become home to a type of bacteria known as Brevibacterium linens. This bacteria would give the barrel a reddish-orange hue and produce an acidic environment.

When the milk was finally turned into cheese, this acidic environment would cause the proteins in the milk to coagulate tightly, resulting in a very dense cheese.

In 1867, a Swiss cheesemaker named William Tellenbach began experimenting with adding copper sulfate to his barrels. This helped to neutralize the acidity and produce a more consistent pH level.

As a result, the cheese produced was much more smooth and had fewer holes. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Swiss cheesemakers began to intentionally add holes to their cheese.

This was done in order to imitate the Italian Cheese Emmental, which was already popular at the time.

Now that you know why are there holes in swiss cheese, let us understand the benefits of these holes.

why are there holes in swiss cheese

Benefits Of Holes In Swiss Cheese?

Holes in Swiss cheese may seem like a nuisance, but they actually serve an important purpose. The holes are created by carbon dioxide gas that is released during the fermentation process.

1. Prevention Of Bacteria

The holes in Swiss cheese act as a barrier to prevent bacteria from penetrating the interior of the cheese. This is important because it helps to extend the shelf life of the cheese.

In fact, studies have shown that Swiss cheese with holes has a lower rate of bacterial contamination than other types of cheese.

2. Flavor

The holes in Swiss cheese also play a role in its flavor. The bacteria that cause the holes to form produce enzymes that break down the milk fats and proteins. This adds an excellent flavor to the swiss cheese and it tastes very much similar to one of the famous cheese types brie cheese.

This process creates flavorful byproducts like butyric acid and propionic acid. These molecules are responsible for the characteristic nutty flavor of Swiss cheese.

3. Texture

The holes in Swiss cheese also affect its texture. The gas bubbles that cause the holes to form create a network of tiny tunnels and chambers inside the cheese.

This gives Swiss cheese its characteristic creamy and smooth texture.

4. Visual Appeal

Last but not least, the holes in Swiss cheese also make it more visually appealing. The even distribution of holes is actually a sign of a well-made cheese.

So next time you see a wheel of Swiss cheese, take a closer look at the holes and appreciate them for the important role they play in the flavor.

Do All Types of Cheese Have Holes?

No, not all types of cheese have holes. The holes are a characteristic of Swiss cheese, but they can also be found in other types of cheese, such as Gruyere and Emmental.

These types of cheese are known as “holey” or “Swiss-style” cheeses. Other popular varieties of cheese, such as cheddar and mozzarella, do not have holes.

why are there holes in swiss cheese

What Does Swiss Cheese Taste Like?

Swiss cheese has a nutty, earthy flavor that is both sweet and savory. The holes in the cheese also give it a slightly salty taste.

Swiss cheese pairs well with fruits and nuts, as well as cured meats like ham and bacon. It can also be used in cooked dishes, such as gratins and quiches.

How Is Swiss Cheese Made?

Swiss cheese is made using raw milk from cows that graze on grassy pastures. The milk is then brought to a cheese factory where it is pasteurized and inoculated with bacteria.

The bacteria culture helps to convert the lactose in the milk into lactic acid. This process takes several hours.

Once the milk has been properly cultured, it is then heated and curdled using rennet. The resulting mixture is then cut into small pieces and allowed to drain.

The cheese curds are then placed in a mold and pressed to remove any remaining whey. After that, the cheese is brined (salted in water) for several weeks.

This helps to preserve the cheese and give it its characteristic flavor. Finally, the cheese is aged for several months before it is ready to be sold.

Swiss cheese can be made using either raw milk or pasteurized milk. However, most Swiss cheesemakers prefer to use raw milk because it results in a higher quality cheese.

Swiss cheese made with pasteurized milk is more likely to have an uneven texture and flavor.

What Recipes We Can Try With Swiss Cheese?

Take a look at the two best recipes you can try with swiss cheese that taste simply delicious.

1. Swiss Cheese Fondue

This recipe for Swiss Cheese Fondue is the perfect way to enjoy this classic cheese.


  • ½ pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • ½ pound Emmental cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the grated cheese and cornstarch.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Pour the white wine into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering.
  4. Add the cheese mixture to the wine, a handful at a time, stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth.
  5. Stir in the pepper and nutmeg.
  6. Serve immediately with bread cubes or vegetables for dipping.
why are there holes in swiss cheese

2. Swiss Cheese and Bacon Quiche

This recipe for Swiss Cheese and Bacon Quiche is a delicious way to enjoy this classic cheese.


  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Dash of cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  4. Add the onion to the bacon fat and cook until softened.
  5. Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.
  6. Set aside.
  7. In a medium bowl, mix together the Gruyere cheese and Swiss cheese. Set aside.
  8. To assemble the quiche, place the bacon and onion mixture in the bottom of an unbaked pie crust.
  9. Sprinkle with the cheese mixture.
  10. Pour the milk mixture over the top. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown.
  11. Let cool for five minutes before serving.


Now you should be clear about why are there holes in swiss cheese. We hope you liked reading this post and trying out the recipes. Let us know in the comments how it went!

Do you have a favorite Swiss cheese recipe? Share it with us! We’d love to hear from you.

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