The name Swiss Cheese does not mean cheese from Switzerland. Swiss Cheese is a generic term mostly used in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States describing cheeses that resemble Emmental cheese from Switzerland. Swiss cheese is white or a pale creamy color, and has a sweet, nutty taste. It is often found sliced on sandwiches.
The most distinguishing feature of Swiss Cheese are the holes, called eyes. As the cheese is produced, bacteria produce lactic acid. Other bacteria then consume this lactic acid and produce carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide creates the holes in Swiss Cheese. The size of the holes can be controlled by the temperature, the maturing time, and the acidity of the cheese during production. Production methods that favor larger holes - higher temperatures and longer maturation times - produce cheeses with stronger flavors. The same bacteria that give Swiss Cheese its holes contribute to its taste.
Most cheeses labeled Swiss Cheese have smaller holes than Emmental from Switzerland. In the United Sates, most Swiss Cheese is sold pre-sliced. Cheeses with larger holes is difficult to slice in industrial slicers. Because the holes are smaller, the flavor is milder.
Where to buy
In North America, so-called Swiss Cheese is very common, and can be found in almost any grocery store.
Various types of Swiss Cheese and similar cheeses can be found at amazon.com.