Tiroler Almkäse ; Tiroler Alpkäse
Tiroler Almkäse/Alpkäse is produced in the form of a loaf (never a block) exclusively from raw cheese making quality milk from cows grazed on alpine pastures with lactic acid bacteria and calf rennet. The rind is firm, yellow to brownish in colour, without cracks and is sometimes covered with a thin dry smear. The g.U. (Geschützte Ursprungsbezeichnunghard) cheese has a firm to soft texture with a uniform ivory to light-yellow colour and a few well-defined pea-sized to cherry-sized eyes. It is aromatic and piquant. The minimum fat content is 45% and the ripening period 4 to 6 months. It weighs between 30 kg and 60 kg.
The cheese is produced in the Austrian Land of Tyrol (North and East Tyrol). In the Tyrol uplands to the west of Innsbruck, the cheese is traditionally known as Alpkäse, and in the Tyrol lowlands as Almkäse. Pastures used for the production of Almkäse lie above the normal habitation altitudes, pastures up to an altitude of around 2 500 m above sea-level being used. A document in the Land Archives dating from 1544 attests to the traditional production of cheese of good keeping quality. In the second half of the nineteenth century, there were already numerous cheese-making dairies in the Tyrol. Dr Heinrich Mair-Waldburg, in his Handbuch der Käse (Cheese Handbook) writes that Alpkäse has been produced for a long time in the Tyrol. In the past, in mountain regions of the Tyrol, turning alpine milk into Almkäse/Alpkäse was the best way of preserving it.
Tiroler Almkäse/Alpkäse is produced exclusively during the 90 to 120 day growing period of alpine pastures. milk from the evening milking is placed in shallow containers (wooden milk pans) and then skimmed the next morning, normally by hand (in modem alpine cheese dairies, the fat content of the milk is adjusted using a centrifuge). The skimmed milk from the previous evening is then mixed with milk from the morning milking and poured into copper vats for processing into Alm/Alpkäse. For acidification of the milk and ripening of the cheese, the Federal Office for the Alpine Dairy Industry produces bacterial cultures which are often further cultured at the cheese dairy with precipitated whey. The use of additives such as anti-oxidants, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilisers, thickening agents, gelling agents, colourings, peroxides, nitrates and flavourings is not permitted. The pre-ripened vat milk is heated to a temperature of 31-32C and coagulated by the addition of rennet (only calf rennet is used, no rennet substitute or genetically produced rennet is used). After initial cutting, the curd is left to thicken for a period (gradual separation of the whey) and then cut into pea-sized grains and, typically for Tiroler, Alm/Alpkäse, cooked. This involves heating the curd and whey mixture to 50-54°C while stirring regularly and then leaving it to further coagulate for up to 45 minutes. When the desired consistency is achieved, the curd is removed using cloth and a system of rails and placed in cheese moulds.
The curd is pressed by means of heavy stones, hydraulically or using a system of levers (many cheese dairies still use old traditional presses made from wooden beams). The following morning, the cheese is placed in a brine bath for up to two days. The cheese is then ripened, often in a natural cellar with wide temperature variations (10-18°C) and relative humidity of 90-95%, for around 4 to 6 months. During ripening, the cheese is smeared with brine, to which initially a red culture can be added (Brevibacterium linens), producing bacterial flora which makes a considerable contribution to developing flavour. This surface treatment is initially carried out every day, and then less and less frequently.
The milk used for the production of Tiroler Alm/Alpkäse imparts a particular flavour due to the alpine vegetation and the altitude of the production region (high-Alp production area) and to the fact that the cattle are exclusively grass-fed. This, together with the traditional hand production method, gives the cheese its particular character. cheese production makes an essential contribution to maintaining mountain farming in the Tyrol and is vital for the ecological variety and stability of alpine agricultural areas.
Reference: The European Commission
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|Queso blanco cheese||310|
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