Traditional dairy kitchen in Bernhard's Gemstelalp | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

30 Aug. 2022 · Culinary
Lena Schuster

Everything you need to know about cheese - cheese hike through the Gemsteltal

Already when reading the title "Cheese Hike in the Gemsteltal" I am excited about the idea to combine an idyllic hike with insights from a real former mountain cheese dairy. I signed up immediately and couldn't wait to finally start walking. If you like cheese - like me - and also like to be a little more leisurely on the road, I can only warmly recommend the tour.

Gemsteltal

Meeting point is the bus stop Gemse in Bödmen (Walserbus line 1) and everyone is still a bit tired, but bright sunshine and hiking guide Corinna's friendly disposition motivate us. Together we will walk today through the beautiful Gemsteltal to Bernhard's Gemstelalpe. There we will get insights into the former mountain cheese production.

After a short time, a gigantic mountain massif comes into our field of vision: the highest mountain of Kleinwalsertal, the Großer Widderstein with its 2,536 m accompanies us on our hike. Wow!

Gemsteltal

We cross the Gemstelbach - how beautifully clear it is, you can even see the stones lying on the ground. On hot days you can certainly cool off well here. Since today is a pleasant late summer day, we prefer to continue walking towards Bernard's Gemstelalp. Did you know that there is a difference between "alp" and "hut"?  A mountain hut is a purely gastronomic establishment for a stopover, while an alpine pasture is always associated with the keeping of grazing livestock. It is the place where livestock stay in the mountains in summer, including pastures, stables and the well-known alpine hut, where hikers can enjoy homemade products with a delicious snack. Good to know, isn't it?

Gemsteltal

The closer we get to Bernhard's Gemstelalp, the louder the bells ringing of the cows in the pasture. Are they perhaps even the cows from which the milk for our cheese comes, which we are allowed to taste later? I love to watch the beautiful animals grazing. We hike on leisurely and I notice that I am by far the youngest person in the group with my 14 years - so the tour is probably something for young and old. 😉

Bernhard's Gemstelalp

Arrived at our destination Bernhard welcomes us with a friendly smile and leads us into his old senn kitchen. I am curious to see what Bernhard will show us about the traditional mountain cheese production. No more cheese is made on the alp itself - Bernhard makes this himself in his modern senna kitchen in the valley. For me, especially the comparison of the former cheese making and the modern adaptations, which make the work of the senna a little easier, is interesting.

On his alp Bernhard keeps 15 cows, from whose milk he makes products for direct sales. One of Bernhard's cows gives about 5,000 liters of milk per year and cow, while an industrial cow can give about 15,000 liters of milk. We notice, here one reflects on tradition and the appreciation towards the animals. And you can taste this in the products that Bernhard and his team sell through the Alpe and Bernhard's Gemstelhof!

Cheese plate at Bernhard's Gemstelalp | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus

After the vivid explanation of cheese production, we are finally allowed to taste the products. On a wonderfully arranged cheese plate we find the mountain cheese just described. Small delicacies are also the elderflower cheese and homemade berry mustard - my personal highlight. In addition to cheese and ham specialties from Kleinwalsertal, there is also fresh buttermilk in different variations. Hmm, delicious!

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