We’re bringing you Glarner Alpkäse cheese as part of the Adopt and Alp effort. Each year since 2015, Zingerman’s Delicatessen has helped support the family farmers and cheesemakers in the Alps of Switzerland through our Adopt An Alp effort. We import different Alpage cheeses–each with a special story about the lifestyle, traditions, people and animals who seasonally move around the Alps to make these incredible cheeses. We invite you to learn, buy, and enjoy these cheeses with us!
Transhumance is a tradition of people and animals moving in accordance with the seasons. It originated over 8,000 years ago and is how these Alpage cheeses are made. Dairy farmers in Switzerland move their family and cows from the valley to the higher meadows during the summer season to escape the heat and produce these cheeses.
The cheese begin to arrive at the Deli in the fall and we usually have enough to get us through the holidays. We enjoy these cheeses on a cheeseboard, in a fondue, or just for snacking. For more information about the Adopt and Alp effort to connect American cheesemongers and consumers with Alpage cheeses, visit their website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.
Ari writes about this cheese in the Nov/Dec 2021 Zingerman’s Newsletter. The following is an excerpt from that newsletter entitled Glarner Alpkäse AOP 2020.
Each spring farmers in the mountains walk their herds from lower pastures to the unplowed meadows at high altitude. The cows’ diet up in the mountains is marvelously diverse and the flavor of the milk reflects it. Historically, some of the best mountain cheeses you’ll ever have are Alpage cheeses made in this way. Supplies are limited—it’s a lot of work to take the animals up and back down, and the cheesemakers essentially live in isolation on the mountain tops four months out of the year—they’ve been social-distancing in this way I guess for centuries.
The Glarner Alp cheese is made in the mountains surrounding the town of Glarus in the northeastern part of the country. It’s washed regularly with a brine solution during the aging, both to firm up the natural rind and to develop the flavor of the cheese. The wheels are aged on wooden boards to help them breathe properly during maturing. The flavor is full and delicious, with that magical “nose” that the best Swiss mountain cheeses deliver. The family stays up in the mountains, working at altitudes between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. Their only contact with the outside world during those four months are weekly helicopter deliveries of food and laundry
photo credit Adopt an Alp