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Science & Technology

Mystery of the holes in Swiss cheese solved

May 29, 2015 | Comment icon 13 comments



The holes are caused by microscopic hay particles. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Holger Reichardt
Scientists have finally worked out the answer to a mystery that has endured for over a century.
The holes are perhaps one of the most distinctive characteristics of Swiss cheese, a culinary favorite that originated in the area around Emmental in Switzerland.

Scientists have long attributed them to carbon dioxide released by bacteria inside the cheese, an idea that was first put forward by American scientist William Clark in a paper published in 1917.

Now however it turns out that the real culprit is actually something entirely different.
New findings from a labratory in Switzerland have revealed that it is microscopic hay particles, not bacteria, that result in the formation of the distinctive holes.

The particles fall in to the buckets used to collect milk and subsequently make their way in to the cheese where they form larger and larger holes as the cheese matures.

Scientists believe that this also explains why the holes have been getting smaller in recent years as modern farming methods have resulted in fewer hay particles ending up in the milk.

Source: BBC News | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Finally. THat took WAY too long.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Zalmoxis 7 years ago
I thought it was so the cheese can breathe.
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
OK! All that has to be done is take the same milk bucket and filter half of it to capture the hay. Then make Swiss cheese out of it and see if the holes aren't in the filtered sample. Doesn't this make you wonder what in the stall touched the hay before it was in the bucket? Now that I think about it more, aren't most cows milked by machine with the milk going into a sealed container? Regardless, with or without holes, I still don't like the taste of Swiss cheese. Which is kind of ironic as some of my ancestors came from Switzerland.
Comment icon #7 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
not a realistic discovery . It is the bacteria . elders knows it
Comment icon #8 Posted by ROGER 7 years ago
I worked in the cheese making business in Monroe Wi. when younger and I submit the idea this story is more about the BULL , rather than the cheese from the cow . The holes are in Swiss Cheese because of the unique kind of bacteria used for it's texture and taste .
Comment icon #9 Posted by woopypooky 7 years ago
cheese without holes, arent cheese
Comment icon #10 Posted by She-ra 7 years ago
MMMmmmm now I want french onion soup.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Athena1979 7 years ago
Finally ! I may die in peace.
Comment icon #12 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
I worked in the cheese making business in Monroe Wi. when younger and I submit the idea this story is more about the BULL , rather than the cheese from the cow . The holes are in Swiss Cheese because of the unique kind of bacteria used for it's texture and taste . exactly and for the records, the piece of cheese depicted in the image is Gruyere
Comment icon #13 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 7 years ago
Din know that was a mystery til now


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