Difference between: Swiss cheese and baby Swiss

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.

I derived the following information from: RecipeTips.com, Cheese.com, GotCheese.net, HuffingtonPost.com, and MentalFloss.com.

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!).

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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)?

24 thoughts on “Difference between: Swiss cheese and baby Swiss

  1. There’s also a french cheese called Comte (with an accent over the “e” that I don’t know how to do on an iPhone) that has holes in it, but not as many as Swiss 🙂

  2. Thank you for the informative explanation, regarding the difference between Swiss cheese and Baby Swiss cheese. When shopping at the grocery store, I always wondered what was the difference, between these two types of cheese was. Now I know, thanks to your blog ~ 😉

  3. Jarlsberg does have holes as well, but it’s also very similar to Swiss cheese, except somewhat a little bit sweeter. Great info though!

  4. I’m glad I came across your blog. I just got Baby Swiss as a gift, and noticed it was pretty bland. I recently purchased Jarlsberg, which was great. Next purchase is Comte`!

  5. I do love baby swiss versus regular swiss or even the Swiss that starts with a “G”. The baby is milder and when I make a grilled cheese sandwhich….always have to add American cheese and some honey ham or turkey. I always wondered what the difference was (baby is more expensive than regular)….so THANK YOU. May I follow your blog?

    1. Great column Erin! I have noticed that large grocery stores are marketing various labelled cheeses and foodstuffs when that clearly are laughable, paltry, hybrid bastards of what ” the real deal” consists of. For instance, I’m now munching on what has been labelled “baby Swiss” when it is clearly a Swiss cheese – firmer texture, larger holes, stronger flavor. Still, cheaper knock-offs can still be yummy.

  6. Love making my quiche with both baby Swiss and Swiss but can’t figure out the difference between whipping cream and heavy cream when used in my quiche it always comes out the same! Thanks for the blog

  7. Great explanation. I assumed the differences wee exactly what you described. I prefer the stronger, more pungent ages Swiss but my wife prefers the milder Baby Swiss.

    I’ll work on her.

    Thanks for the information. Well done.

  8. Purchased some Baby Swiss (Roundy’s store brand) here in WI and I’m ready to complain to the store. It is soooo bland –I prefer mozzarella to this stuff. I have had other brands of Baby Swiss that still had the “Swiss” flavor. This stuff has none.

  9. I had bought a package of swiss cheese from the grocery stroe some time back. I have and still do this often. However, one set of slices it was obvious that the holes in the swiss were cut via a manufacturing process because the holes didn’t get completely cut all the way around and thus the partially cut holes still had the entire piece of cheese! I was quite surprised. So, when you buy sliced swiss cheese from a standard big name grocery store (and I wish I could remember the company and variety of the cheese but it was one of the big brands; kraft or lucern), assume the cheese you are buying may not be what you deeply expect.

  10. As commented on before, Have to and Jarlsberg have holes. Also one that looks like cheddar, I’d like to try it, but at $14 a lb. way to high for this cowboy. I could get a 2″ thick T-bone for that $s

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