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Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 5 - La Maison du Gruyeres Cheese Factory

When husband was planning for the trip, he asked us if we are interested to visit a cheese factory and chocolate factory, of course we raised our 4 limbs.

So here we are...on the way to visit a cheese factory in the famous township, Gruyere.

After breakfast, we departed. Saw this beautiful farm house along the road side again.

Husband told us the road journey would take about 1.5 hours. Sounds fine to me.

Husband didn't take the express way but a mountain pass. He thinks we could see more on the way. He was right.

We passed by many small towns, and I enjoyed looking at their houses with unique characteristic.

For example, this house is like wearing a hat, a Swiss hat.

There are many lonely houses on the field.

 Also, there are many chalets and restaurants along the road too.

Another house with a hat on it.

We drove up the mountain slowly. After all, we couldn't drive any faster on the road like this.

Sometimes, we won't know which direction to turn until we reach to the end.

It's rare to see a house which was built with pure white wood, or painted in white, I was not too sure. 

The density of the population is so low, that everyone seem to have a big piece of land for themselves. For this, we can only feel envious. 

If I live here, I would probably use up the land by planting some apples trees. And I'll open the plantation to the visitors with some charges, but they can "eat as many apples as they can" while in there. 

Seriously, I thought this would be a good business for I myself was looking for a plantation like this everywhere we travel in the region. But sad to say, we found none. I don't know why the local people have never thought of this?

Going up the hill...

Another lonely house on the slope.

Almost to the top now... 

Descending to another small town....

We didn't stop by, just continue to run on the road.

A gloomy house on the road side. 

Only when the sun is shining on it, the house looks less gloomy.

Slightly over 1 hour, finally we arrived at our destination, Gruyere. The town is characterized with a castle on top of the hill (on the left hand side).

Husband said we would go up there after visiting the cheese factory.  

We drove a bit further and found the cheese factory without any difficulties. 

Le Gruyère AOC is a cheese with a long tradition and its making has been handed down over many generations of cheese makers both in the alpine and village cheese dairies.

Speaking of Gruyere cheese, every cheese lovers around the world will know about it.

We really didn't look fit into it.

A ticketing counter and a restaurant is here.

I think they use this as the container to make cheese in the older time.

Waiting for husband to get the tickets for us...

The tour is started here when we walked up a short staircase.

There isn't any tour guide. Instead, every visitor is given a headset and information is available in 6 languages, French, German, English, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. The text is also available on paper. The duration of the tour will take about 30-40 minutes.

We listened to the introduction via headset patiently, but the kids didn't. When they have lost their attention, they started to wild guess on everything they saw. Sigh. 

Besides the narration via headset, there is also several TV screens to explain the whole production in detail. 

The information that we've got is clear enough but I was hoping for something more personal. Too bad there isn't any. 

There is only this room where we can see the cheese makers in action, that has been a tradition in this town for hundreds of years.

This popular cheese has been made for centuries in the country side around the village of Gruyeres. Today, it's still produced in the traditional way.

Some interesting information to read on....

A cow eats 180kg of grass and drinks 85 litres of water per day, producing an average of 25 litres of milk daily. 

400 litres of milk = One 35 kg round of Gruyere cheese. 
12 litres of milk = 1 kg of Gruyere AOC cheese

A pan containing 4,800 litres of milk is used to produce 12 rounds of Gruyere AOC. Four pans enable 48 rounds to be produced daily.

5.7 million litres of milk are processed into Gruyere AOC cheese every year in Gruyere. 

As you leave, the cheese maturing cellars can be seen.
They have a capacity of up to 7000 rounds.

Stirring 4800 litres of milk was in the progress....

The mould that is used to shape the cheese in round form. 

The rounds will be soaked in this salt bath, whilst still flexible and soft. For at least 20 hours, they will partly exude their water content and by osmosis will absorb half of their final salt content. 

The tour is ended here....

The cheese maturing cellar is located at the open area in the reception. 

In the maturing cellars, the cheeses are stored on rough unpland spruce "picea abies" shelves, at a temperature of between 12 C and 18 C, with relative humidity of approximately 92%

With the 4 tickets that we have bought, we were given 4 packs of Gruyere Cheese. 

I don't know much about the cheese, but it's said that Gruyere cheese is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy and complex. When fully aged (5-12 months), it tends to have small cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouthfeel. 

We have opened a pack and tried each one of them at the different age. To me, they smell like a salty fish, but taste is ok (not too strong). 

The retail price of Gruyere cheese in the shop outlet. I think its price is tend to the higher end. 


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