Hirtenkäse, or "herder's cheese", is a distinctive cow's milk cheese made in the Allgäu area of Southern Germany.[1][2]

Other namesHerder's cheese
Country of originGermany
Source of milkCows
TextureHard cheese
Aging timevaries, usually 8 months

Traditionally, cow herders bring their cows from the Alps into Allgäu each fall in mid-September.[1][2] September 18 typically "marks the official start of the Almabtrieb, or descent, a day celebrated with a festival ...."[2] Hirtenkäse is made from the milk from these cows.[1][2] It is usually aged eight months.[2]

Color, texture and taste

This cheese is "golden"[2] and "Buttery yellow in color...."

Its texture and taste are "rustic, savory and firm textured... with a rugged, earthy aroma."

It has been compared to other hard cheeses of Europe:

In texture and flavor, the 14-pound cheese resembles a cross between Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Gouda, with a firm golden interior and aromas of butterscotch and orange peel. ... Even at eight months, the cheese has developed some of the crunchy protein crystals found in Parmigiano-Reggiano. But additional aging makes the cheese creamier, not harder and dryer. It has a waxy texture - it even smells waxy - but it isn't crumbly like Parmigiano-Reggiano or firm enough to grate. The flavor is concentrated, with the cooked-milk sweetness of a caramel.

Janet Fletcher, San Francisco Chronicle[2]

Wine and fruit pairings

Hirtenkäse's nutty, earthy flavors can be complemented or contrasted.

A reviewer at the San Francisco Chronicle prefers complementing the cheese, writing, "I want a nutty, slightly sweet wine with it, such as an oloroso sherry or a Madeira."[2]

iGourmet suggests contrasting the cheese:

Hirtenkase [sic] is wonderful with German whole grain breads, fresh and dried fruits, like apples and figs. Excellent also when coarsely grated over roasted potatoes, mixed into hot pasta with chucks of ripe tomatoes, shaved over a crisp salad. Enjoy Hritenkase [sic] with a glass of wheat beer like a Hefeweizen, or a full bodied red wine.


Like the bacon-and-chicken liver rumaki, this cheese can be combined with other foods in interesting ways to mix salty and savory flavors.

See also


  1. Fond o'Foods website. Accessed March 17, 2009.
  2. Janet Fletcher, "Cheese Course: Hirtenkäse fans party when the cows come home," San Francisco Chronicle, February SF Gate website. Accessed March 17, 2009.
  3. iGourmet website. Accessed March 17, 2009.
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