Produced in the Zürich hill-lands of Switzerland, Senne-Flade is an aromatic, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese made by third generation cheesemaker Paul Bieri of Girenbad Dairy.
In the mid 1800’s, this area was home to more than 50 different dairies. Today, only 25 of them are still in operation, a number that would be significantly less, were it not for he efforts of the “Natürli”-Consortium”. This consortium, under the guidance of Fredy Bieri, Paul’s brother, has created a marketing and sales platform for the area’s regional dairies.
The Girenbad dairy is situated about 40 minutes drive from Zurich and 2500 feet above sea level. Today the dairy is run by Paul’s daughter Christa Egli, although Paul still oversees the cheesemaking. Each day at least 2500 liters (660 US gallons) of raw milk are transformed into a variety of different cheeses, one of them being Senne-Flade.
Paul first began experimenting with soft, washed-rind cheeses in 1997. As a result of very good feedback, he decided to produce Senne-Flade on a regular basis. The name translates literally as Senne meaning “herdsman” and fladä meaning “a flat round thing” – which can sometimes refer to a cake made with apples or even a cow patty.
For cheesemaking, Paul uses thermalised evening milk, heating it briefly up to a temperature of 60˚C (140˚F), combined with raw morning milk. As the milk is heated, natural calf rennet is added as a coagulant. After gently transferring the cut curds to the molds, the young cheeses are allowed to drain before being unmolded, salted and moved to an aging room.
Cheeses are matured for at least one month and frequently longer. During this time, each wheel is regularly washed with a brine solution. This produces the pungent aroma and pink, slightly sticky rind associated with Senne-Flade.
The texture of the cheese is soft and smooth. When young, flavors are slightly tart, but this dissipates with age, when the cheese becomes stronger, more assertive and more rounded with a creamy mouthfeel.