WHAT IS TILSITER?
This Swiss käse is a smear ripened (a.k.a. pungent) cow’s milk cheese. Aged for about 2 months, it has irregular holes scattered throughout its’ paste. During aging the rind is repeatedly washed. There are three versions. Green label is pasteurized, red uses raw milk and yellow label is pasteurized but with cream added. Tilsiter is also available in flavors – caraway or with peppercorns. Originally made in wheels, today Tilsiter is often found in loaf form making it ideal for foodservice (also known as not that expensive).
WHERE IS TILSITER MADE?
Tilsiter comes to us originally from the Emmental valley in Switzerland. According to Cheeses from Switzerland, Herr Otto Wartmann moved to the town of Tilsit in 1893 where he invented this cheese. There is also a version made in Germany.
IF SIZE DOESN’T MATTER, WHY DOES TILSITER HAVE HOLES BUT EMMENTHALER HAS EYES?
Because as you might’ve heard during prom night, size does matter. Usually holes in the paste are formed by the build up of CO2 gas during the cheese-making process. Small, irregular pockets are called “holes” and large, uniformly shaped gaps are called “eyes.” These spaces are different then when a crack occurs inside of the structurally weak part of a cheese.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH TILSITER?
Dark German beer is a frequent choice. With wines you’ll need something that has enough character to stand up to this käse’s strong flavor. Look to red wines like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. Also popular as a table cheese, Tilsiter works well in alpine style recipes. Try melting it on potatoes or cubing it for salads. For Swiss cheese flights, try an Emmenthaler and a Beaufort or Gruyere for a nice alpine selection. International käse tours should play with texture a bit avoiding other washed rind or pungent cheeses unless mild (so a gorgonzola cut with mascapone or a Cambozola Black label). A fun French camembert or a Dutch aged gouda with some fresh green apples and dried fruits can make for a good cheese plate.