Scientists Have Worked Out Why Swiss Cheese Has Holes

By Jamie Condliffe on at

The holes in Swiss cheese lend it a very distinctive appearance. But new analysis reveals that they’re not a result of gas produced bacteria in the cheese, or cheeky nibbling by mice—but something else entirely.

Researchers at Agroscope, a Swiss agricultural research centre, have discovered that the holes are in fact a result of tiny pieces of hay that find their way into the milk that’s used for cheese making. Their study reveals that when the most modern techniques are used along the supply chain—from cow to final product—the holes get smaller or disappear altogether, because hay particles become so scarce. So in days gone by, there were more and bigger holes, but over the last 10 to 15 years, they’ve begun to shrink. The new theory trumps the old one, suggested back in 1917 by American William Clark, who proposed that the hole were a result of CO2 production by bacteria that were held within the milk. [Guardian]

Image by John Cooper under Creative Commons license