I have a new blog category I want to try out: difference between. How many times have I been in the grocery store and thought, what the heck is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? Heavy cream and whipping cream? Thousand Island dressing and Russian dressing? (Note to self: future post ideas.)
That is not to say this category will always be about food, though. I mean, it probably will, but I reserve the right to explore differences between other inanimate objects.
My latest grocery store, “what is the difference between” moment was with Swiss cheese and baby Swiss cheese. After doing some research, I am ready to report the findings. Inevitably, I couldn’t help additionally delving into why Swiss cheese has holes.
Let us start with Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese is, clearly, highly recognizable for its holes, something that no other cheese has (that I am aware of; if I’m wrong comment and let me know!).
These holes are actually called “eyes” by cheese professionals, and, I would assume, cheese connoisseurs. The holes come about during the process by which the milk is transformed into cheese. A (good) bacteria forms, and creates pockets of carbon dioxide, which are the holes.
Basically, the longer cheese ages, the bigger the holes get. And, according to GotCheese.net, the longer the Swiss cheese ages, the better quality it becomes. Also, the more intense it becomes.
Which brings us to: baby Swiss. Baby Swiss cheese is not aged for very long, and so it is milder, which some people prefer. It is similar to another type of Swiss cheese, Lacy Swiss, and the two are often mistaken for one another; I had never heard of Lacy Swiss cheese prior to today.
Baby Swiss was invented by Alfred Guggisberg in the mid 1960s, and it has a buttery, slightly nutty flavor to it. And again, it is less hole-y and milder than traditional Swiss cheese.
It also should go without saying at this point that cheese enthusiasts would probably agree that baby Swiss cheese is of a lesser quality than the longer aged, stronger flavored Swiss cheese. Perhaps that is where the term “baby” came from, as a comment on how much more hardcore real Swiss cheese is.
An interesting tidbit to end on: According to MentalFloss.com, in 2000, the FDA ruled that the eyes of Grade-A Swiss sold in America had to be between 3/8 and 13/16 of an inch in diameter – this is because more modern cheese slicing equipment was tearing the larger holed Swiss cheese apart.
This begs the question, to me, is the quality of Swiss cheese now compromised, because cheese makers are restricted on how big to make the holes (and therefore how long to age the cheese)?