In spite of its name not from Switzerland, but an American imitation of Emmenthal cheese (Emmentaler) with standards of identity defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Swiss cheese is a firm, light yellow cheese, made from cow's milk, with bubbles throughout its mass. When slice, the bubbles form the signature holes.
Its taste is nutlike, although not as strong as that of Swiss or French relatives such as Emmenthal or Gruyère cheese. When heated, it softens and eventually produces chewy strands. The Reuben sandwich pairs melted Swiss with corned beef and sauerkraut.
To meet USDA standards, it contains not more than 41 percent of moisture, and its solids contain not less than 43 percent of milkfat.
While much of American Swiss cheese is a commodity, there are very good artisanal cheeses in the "Swiss" style, either prefixed with the cheesemaker's name or with a distinct brand name.