Adopt an Alp: Ruosalp Alpkäse

Introduction

We’re bringing you Ruosalp 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.

Alp Ruosalp

Towards the end of May, Max Herger will bring his family, Monika and 3 children, up to Ruosalp, following in the tradition of his parents. The move to the chalet on Ruosalp is long and steep, but due to rough gravel paths and narrow needle turns still easier to do by foot than by car.

Even though the cows, after 4 or 5 weeks into the Alp season, can move to and enjoy the meadows on up to 6,000 feet, Max and his entourage have decided to make the Unterstafel (lower hut) their permanent summer residence. Their spacious house is located on an altitude of 5,250 feet and also houses the barn, the renovated dairy, and the even newer cheese cellar. The tiny, older chalet on the Oberstafel is reserved for visiting friends and family.

Max is hired by the Alp Corporation Uri to watch and take care of 250 heifers while upon the Alp. As part of his salary, he is allowed to make cheese of the milk of his own 16 cows. He buys additional milk from his neighbor’s 12 cows and also brings up a friend’s 20 goats in order to make cheese out of their milk. At the very peak of summer Max crafts about 150 gallons of cow milk per day into cheeses.

Besides their Alpkäse (a little under 9 lbs wheels, which is what we have on our Deli counter) he also produces a Geisskäse (aged goat milk, a bit over 2 lbs per piece) and several soft-ripened cheeses. When down in the valley, Max and Monika sell their cheeses at the local farmers market and tend to their small herd and a big garden.

SHOP ALL ADOPT AN ALP CHEESES AT THE DELI

photo credits Adopt an Alp