Gruyère IPA: [ɡʁy.jɛʁ] (Groo-Yair) is a hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk, named after the town of Gruyères in Switzerland, and made in the cantons of Fribourg, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Berne. Before 2001, when Gruyère gained Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée status as a Swiss cheese, some controversy occurred as to whether French cheeses of a similar nature could also be labelled Gruyère. (French Gruyère-style cheeses include Comté and Beaufort.) French Gruyère-style cheeses must have holes according to French agricultural law, whereas Swiss Gruyère is a solid cheese with no holes.
Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavour that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouth feel. To make an 80 kg round of Gruyère cheese, about 800 litres of milk are used.
Gruyère is generally known as one of the finest cheeses for baking, having a distinctive but not overpowering taste. In quiche, Gruyère adds savouriness without overshadowing the other ingredients. It is a good melting cheese, so particularly suited to fondues, along with Vacherin and Emmental. It is also traditionally used in French onion soup, as well as in Croque Monsieur, a classic French toasted ham and cheese sandwich. It is a fine table cheese, and when grated, it is often used with salads and pastas. It is used, grated, atop Le Tourin, a type of garlic soup from France which is served on dried bread.
Le Gruyère Switzerland AOC has many different varieties with different aged profiles and an organic version of the cheese is also sold. There is a special variety that is produced only in summer on the Swiss Alps: the Le Gruyère Switzerland AOC Alpage.
Generally you can distinguish the following age profiles.
- mild/doux: min. 5 months old
- réserve: min. 10 months old
In Switzerland, many other age profiles can be found, including surchoix, vieux, salé, grotte (cave aged). All these age profiles are not part of the AOC.