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Baby Swiss Cheese

What actually distinguishes baby Swiss from Swiss cheese, flavor-wise?

Published Jan. 1, 2014.

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What You Need To Know

The “baby” in baby Swiss doesn’t just refer to the relatively small size of the wheels. To suit Americans’ tastes for milder cheese, Swiss-born cheesemakers in the 1960s made a number of changes to the recipe for regular Swiss that led to a more slight flavor: They used pasteurized milk and more salt and shortened the culturing step. They also washed out the whey with hot water and aged the cheese only briefly. As a result, most baby Swiss tastes more buttery, milky, and salty than the conventional kind, and its texture is softer and moister—more like a mild provolone or munster. Those changes also considerably shrank the size of the cheese’s “eyes”; on average, they’re about as big as peas, whereas the holes in regular Swiss can be as large as walnuts.

We assumed that profile would make baby Swiss suitable only for melting in a sandwich, but to be sure, we tasted the four products we found in grilled cheese as well as on their own. By and large, we were right: The samples melted nicely and tasted similarly mild and creamy, but we wouldn’t serve any of them on a cheese plate. However, our favorite sample did stand out for its “nutty,” “mineral-y” flavors.

Everything We Tested

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