2 to 3 times a week each cheese producer takes his cheeses to the cellars of the Cooperative at L'Etivaz.
All the cheese wheels are placed in a brine bath for 24 hours. This stage is essential for forming the crust which guarantees the preservation of the cheese and enables it to develop its flavour.
In order to guarantee a good crust, the wheels are turned over and rubbed with salt every day during the week following the brine bath in a cellar kept at a temperature of between 13°C and 15°C with 95% humidity.
The cheeses are then removed to a warmer cellar where the temperature is between 15°C and 17°C, and where during a two week period they are turned over and rubbed with a weak brine solution 3 times a week. It is during this time that the smear is formed on the surface of the cheese. This thin, orange-coloured film composed of micro-organisms contributes to the development of the cheese’s aroma.
The cheeses are then laid out on un-planed shelves of spruce. It is during this ripening period lasting between 135 days and 24 months that the L'Etivaz AOP alpine cheese acquires its smoothness and elasticity as well as its characteristic yellow ivory colouring.
At the end of six months of ripening, around 1,000 wheels are selected to be dried naturally in the loft for a further period of 30 months.
The traceability of each wheel of L’Etivaz AOP cheese is guaranteed by the casein mark stamped on it by each producer when the cheese is put under the press. This mark makes it possible to identify the provenance and the date of production of the cheese.
As of October 1, 2015 hot brand marking was introduced as a supplementary measure. Every wheel of cheese leaving the cellars to be commercialised is marked with a hot brand, thus providing a guarantee that the product is a L’Etivaz AOP cheese. The main purpose of this machine, which was developed in conjunction with the firm Sugnaux in Romont, is to mark the wheel around the whole of its edge, thus making it possible to authenticate the wheel both in its entirety and when it is cut into segments. This system allows the Cooperative to guard against possible imitation and copies, and thus protect consumers against fraud.