Appenzeller cheese is a hard cow's-milk cheese produced in the Appenzell region of northeast Switzerland, such as the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, St. Gallen and Thurgau.
A herbal brine, sometimes incorporating wine or cider, is applied to the wheels of cheese while they cure, which flavors and preserves the cheese while promoting the formation of a rind.
Appenzeller has a documented history of at least 700 years. Today, about 75 dairies produce it, each with a different recipe for their brine wash. Most of the recipes are trade secrets.
The cheese is straw-colored, with tiny holes and a golden rind. It has a strong smell and a nutty or fruity flavor, which can range from mild to tangy, depending on how long it is aged. Three types are sold:
- "Classic". Aged three to four months, mildly spicy. The wheels are wrapped in a silver label.
- "Surchoix". Aged four to six months, strongly spicy. Gold label.
- "Extra". Aged six months or longer, extra spicy. Black label.