While many alp cheese dairies are equipped with modern facilities, alp cheese is still made primarily by hand. Primitive utensils and elaborate methods are often used. Making alp cheese demands considerable skill and experience.
The fresh, aromatic and healthy herbs in the alpine meadows produce a full-flavoured raw milk, which is carefully processed almost as soon as the cow has been milked.
The milk is then heated over a wood fire. The smoke adds to the unmistakable flavour.
Once the culture and the rennet have been added, the mass is then cut with a cheese harp. This process is known as ‘pre-curdling’. The culture is made up of the lactic acid bacteria, which are needed to break down the lactose and to ripen the cheese. Rennet is an enzyme found in the stomach of calves; it causes the milk to curdle.
After the cheese (curd) has been heated to a precisely defined temperature, a cloth and Bögli (a steel strip) are used. The cheese mixture is then placed in the cheese mould.
The mixture is squeezed in the cheese mould, known as the Järb or circle, and then placed in a salt bath.
The wheels are inspected regularly in the cheese cellar; they first need to be brushed and then wiped dry.