Emmental is one of the largest cheeses in physical size in the world. More than 264 gallons of milk is required for one cheese. During the whole of the ripening process the cheeses have to be turned regularly. In the past this had to be done by hand and the strong muscles of the cheese makers were much feared in the wrestling ring. The flexible paste is a lovely deep yellow colour with holes the size of cherries, walnuts, or even golf balls. The trademark holes, produced by release of carbon dioxide during fermentation, also provide problems for the cheese makers – the holes are growing so big that wheels of Emmental cheese in many Swiss dairies are expanding, and some even burst.
The cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern in Switzerland but France also makes Emmental de Savoie, from Savoy and Emmental Français est-Central from Franche-Comté, France and also has PGI status.