Introducing... Bergkäse

November 24, 2023 2 min read

Introducing... Bergkäse


Introduced to us by our excellent collaborators of all things Swiss - Huguenin Fromages - we are newly enthused by a cheese which goes by the name Fromage de Montagne in French-speaking Switzerland (Huguenin’s home), or Bergkase in the Swiss-German speaking region where it’s made. Whilst, at Mons, we tend towards the French in most things, this time, we’re following the makers’ lead & you’ll see it named as Bergkase on our counters.

It’s produced by Andreas Hinterberger’s 10 man team at the Fromagerie de Montagne de Gais in the village of Gais, near St Gallen in the South Tyrol, within the hilly, picturesque Canton of Appenzell Inner-Rhoden in Switzerland.

The dairy sits at 950m altitude on the Santis mountain (pictured), looking over Lake Constance where Switzerland borders with both Austria & Germany. It is around 50 miles due east of Zurich, as the crow flies.

The dairy draws milk from 60 suppliers across the Appenzell region. All the producing families, herds & milk quality are known first hand & closely followed by the cheese makers from Gais. They take great pride in the personal relationships they have with each.They transform between 30 - 35,000 ltres of milk per day / 11 - 13 million ltres of milk per year – which would correspond to the size of a modest Comte fruitiere, for instance.

The cheese is made with thermised milk of predominantly Swiss Brown cattle.
The recipe is similar to that of Appenzell – a make that hits a temperature of around 35 degrees C for co-agulation. This nestles it half way between the thermophyllic makes of Gruyere or L’Etivaz & the mesophyllic ones of Morbier or Tomme, hence its firm but pliant texture. The smooth, rich texture is further accentuated by the addition of an extra dose of cream in the milk before heating.The Curds are cut down the size of cottage cheese size grains & stirred in their whey before draining, moulding & pressing. They are brine salted & washed every day for the first 4 weeks of their aging & weekly thereafter.

Their optimal eating age is around 4 months old.

Whilst of meaningful size, the dairy prides itself on the quality of their milk & their cheeses. They also put great value in their role as custodians of the natural environment in which they work, operating with a deep seated environmental conscience which translates to such projects as providing much of their own energy through solar power & other similar endeavours.