Zillertaler Graukäse: sauer mit Essig, Öl und Zwiebelringen – Traditional Graukäse Gray Cheese


Sennerei Zillertal Sennereiküche.  A-6290 Mayrhofen · Hollenzen 116

Kitchen Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:00, Sunday and Holidays 9:00 – 17:00


Late spring/early summer is an interesting time to visit Tyrol.  It’s the period when herds of cows can be seen from miles away, grazing the open pastures and fields.  These majestic creatures are a constant reminder of the longtime farmer tradition in the region.  What happens to the milk produced from these animals?  Well, most likely it is sent to the nearby dairy farm, the Sennerei Zillertal.  Nestled deep in the Zillertal Ziller Valley in Mayrhofen, the dairy offers tours to the public that gives a fascinating look into the process of modern milk, cheese and butter production.  The first station in the tour takes a closer look at the one-of-a-kind Graukäse grey cheese. Not only can you see and smell how this local specialty is produced and stored to maturity, you can also enjoy it afterwards at the adjacent Dairy Kitchen!

Tyrolean Graukäse (literally ‘grey cheese’) is a fine cheese with a powerful aroma.  It possesses a refined and sophisticated texture as well as taste.  Tyrolean grey cheese has two contrasting parts – a white curd center and an outer rind.  The cracked rind is where the characteristic grey mold develops, while the white cheese center is rather crumbly.


As one can imagine, the cheese rind emits a much more potent aroma.  It has a uniquely pungent, full body flavor.  The grey mold spotting the surface adds something special.  The rind is further divided in terms of texture – some outer areas are hard (as a rind normally is), while the segment closer to the white center is creamy, gooey and spreadable.  The latter gets a good mix of both worlds.

Traditionally, Tyrolean Graukäse is enjoyed with raw onions.  Here at the dairy kitchen, three thick slices of the cheese come served with a bit of vinegar splashed over the top, a few drops of oil and sliced red onions.  There is also a slab of fresh dairy butter paired with a serving of freshly baked Zillertaler farmhouse rye bread.  The added vinegar reinforces the characteristic sharpness of the cheese while also moistening the tough, dry outer rind.  The oil contributes some fat to the extremely low-fat cheese.  Red onions not only offer fabulous color, but also zest and sweetness.  Its mildness goes along well with the dairy product.

For a filling starter or main meal, Graukäse is best on an open sandwich – a slice of bread with a swipe of butter spread over the top, a heaping amount of cheese and topped off with sliced onions.  The bread mellows out the strong taste a bit while the butter gives wonderful creaminess.  There is nothing like fresh butter and cheese!

Visiting a dairy farm is truly a unique experience.   The Sennerei Zillertal provides the complete sensory encounter as each and every one of your senses are stimulated – after seeing, hearing and smelling the dairy items go through a complex production process, you are invited to taste and feel the end-result directly afterwards.  A visit to the Sennerei Zillertal is a must for a comprehensive culinary journey into the world of local cheese making.  And Tyrolean Graukäse is the quintessential when it comes to local dairy products!


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