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Alpkäserei Handegg: a Swiss cheese hut

Meiringen, Switzerland with Untours
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Meiringen, Switzerland

We booked a week in an apartment in Meiringen with Untours, a company that puts together independent travel vacation packages in Europe. Local representatives are available for support and assistance and there is a get together on the morning after arrival to go over questions and interests and an optional excursion or two.

One day we joined an Untours representative on a post bus ride to Alpkäserei Handegg, a cheesemaker’s hut in the Grimsel region of Switzerland.

cheesemaker’s hut, Switzerland
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cheesemaker’s hut, Switzerland

We passed summer pastures where cows graze on alpine herbs and flowers. This gives the milk a distinctive flavor.

alpine pasture, Switzerland
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alpine pasture seen from the post bus

En route we passed the sign for a popular attraction, Aareschlucht, a gorge carved by the Aare River.

Aareschulucht Gorge, Switzerland
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Aareschulucht, Switzerland

Our Untours guide joined us on the post bus and guided us up a little hill to the cheesemaker’s hut. Pigs in a large pen frolicked in the mud, plump from the cheesemaking by-products.

pigs at cheese hut, Switzerland
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pigs at Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland

Anne, one of the two women who work here, gets up at 4 A.M. to milk the cooperative’s twenty-eight cows and milks them again at 4 P.M. We watched she and the other cheesemaker, Barbara, used the milk to make Bernese alp cheese, bergkäse, in a big cauldron.

cheese making at Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland
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Anne (on left) and Barbara (on right) cheese making at Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland

They strained it with cheesecloth and Barbara pressed it into molds.

cheese molding at Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland
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Barbara,  molding cheese at Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland

Anne, Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland
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Anne, who milks the cows twice a day, Alpkäserei Handegg, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara brought us to another hut where she soaks the cheese in a salt bath for a day, then washes and turns it, at first every day and later once a week.

cheese hut
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There is a cheese party with wine, raclette, and dinner at the end of the season. The cheese is divided among the farmers in the association in proportion to the milk produced by their cows.

Bergkäse in Alpkäserei Handegg cheese storage hut
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Bergkäse in Alpkäserei Handegg cheese storage hut

There are tables just outside their small café that sells these and other local food specialties.We sampled a cheese plate of alpmutschli, aged 3-4 weeks , and bergkäse aged 1 and 2-years, along with Handegg bread and butter.

 cheese plate of alpmutschli, aged 3-4 weeks , and bergkäses aged 1 and 2-years, along with Handegg bread and butter, Switzerland
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cheese plate of (from top, left) alpmutschli aged 3-4 weeks, and, counter-clockwise, bergkäse aged 1 and 2-years, along with Handegg bread and butter

There were several options for our afternoon, like reboarding the post bus and traveling along the Grimsel Pass. We walked across the street and hiked to the Gelmerbahn funicular, a twelve minute 106-degree hair-raising ride on the steepest funicular in Switzerland. It leads to a scenic path around Lake Gelmersee.

funicular to Lake Gelmersee, Switzerland
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Ride the Gelmerbahn funicular in Handegg for a hike around the Gelmersee lake.

The Gelmerbahn funicular in Handegg is the steepest in Switzerland.
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The Gelmerbahn funicular in Handegg is the steepest in Switzerland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more thrills there’s the aerial cable car to the 550’ Trift Bridge, a Nepali hanging bridge that is over 300’ above the Trift glacier region. It is the longest and highest pedestrian bridge in the Alps.

Hungry after our adventure, we stopped at the Hotel Handeck, near the cheese hut and across from the bus stop.  We enjoyed the apple cake served with whipped cream and berries while waiting for the next post bus back to Meiringen.

apple strudel, Hotel Handeck, Switzerland
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apple strudel, Hotel Handeck, Switzerland

 

10 Comments

  1. Hello, Thank you for these pictures!! The last time we brought my grandmother home to Switzerland we went here and bought some cheese, it was the best cheese I have ever had and we have been trying to find it since!! My grammy just stumbled upon your bag and is beyond excited. Do you know if there is anyway for us to get the cheese to us here in Montana, USA? If the cheese shop doesnt sell and ship online we would gladly pay someone close to do it. Your pictures are great and bring us right back there! Thank you

  2. How were the smells?

    • I assume you mean smells from the farm animals. The pigs were well taken care of in a large pen away from the cheese hut and the cows were in a pasture on the next mountain. We noticed no objectionable odors and simply enjoyed the fresh mountain air.

  3. This cheese looks absolutely delightful! The Swiss certainly know how to make good cheese and chocolate!

  4. I’m crazy for cheese. Cheese hut sounds like a perfect place for me! I bet Switzerland is one of the best countries to enjoy some amazing varieties!

    • I think so. So many kinds of wonderful cheese in Switzerland, but nothing else compares to enjoying alpine cheese right on the mountain where it was produced.

  5. i see many similarities in these cheese huts to the ones you see in the Tatra region of Poland. I am thinking this cheese is of the highest quality with its traditional hand made production

    • Good comparison with Poland’s gołka cheese, which is traditionally spindle-shaped. Each cheese has its own unique flavor depending on the mountain’s herbs and plants used for grazing.

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