In the Middle Ages each cheesemaker had his own recipe and secrets for producing raclette cheese, which he constantly improved and handed down to his descendants. It was in this way that the savoir-faire of the cheesemakers developed from generation to generation.
Today, raclette cheese is still made according to traditional recipes. Five stages, in-depth knowledge, huge commitment and lots of professionalism are necessary for its production.
Raclette Suisse® is produced from raw or pasteurised cow’s milk. The milk comes from healthy cows that feed on the juicy and varied grasses of our pastures. Specific cultures of lactic bacteria and rennet free of GMOs are added to this milk, after which it is heated to 32 °C while being stirred constantly. After about thirty minutes, the milk begins to curdle due to these natural ingredients. The cultures used for raclette cheese have particular characteristics with respect to lactic fermentation; they determine the maturation of the cheese, its melting capacity, taste and openness.
The coagulated mass is cut with the aid of the ‘curd harp’, a stirring instrument made of taut metal wires. Due to this stirring the size of the pieces is gradually reduced: the curd then separates from the aqueous part, called lactoserum or whey.
3. Heating, pressing and salting
The curd is heated to a maximum of 42 °C while being stirred continuously. It is then extracted from the whey with the aid of a cloth, and placed in a mould to be pressed. The bacteria added to the curd transform the lactose into lactic acid. The raclette cheese loaves are placed for one or two days in a brine bath. This helps to improve the cheese’s organoleptic properties, its conservation and its microflora. Furthermore, the brine bath enables the loaves to lose humidity and favours the formation of the rind.
During ripening, to stimulate the formation of the smear, Raclette Suisse® is regularly treated with specific cultures and according to a particular process. As with the previous stages, this process gives the raclette cheese its characteristic taste and aroma. In addition, the lactose is completely degraded during ripening and the proteins are transformed into a more digestible form. Ripening takes about three months on average.
Quality management guarantees the excellent quality of Raclette Suisse® as well as the natural character of the product. This includes both the control system of each member of the organisation and periodic checks of the finished product by Raclette Suisse, in collaboration with the Institute of Food Science in Berne. Several times a year, during these checks on the finished products, Raclette Suisse verifies that all the raclette cheeses are safe and free of additives; in addition it tests the melting capacity of the products. Only cheeses that are 100 % natural and of top quality reach the client.