The canton of Lucerne is part of central Switzerland. The land of the canton lies in the northern foothills of the Swiss Alps (Urner Alps). The highest elevation in the Canton of Lucerne is the Brienzer Rothorn, at 2,350 m (7,710 ft). It borders the cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden to the south, Schwyz and Zug to the east, Aargau to the north, and Bern to the west. Its territory corresponds to the subjugated territories acquired by the city of Lucerne during the 14th and 15th centuries, including : Lucerne itself.
At the end of November 2021, we went to one of the 6 districts of the canton of Lucerne, more precisely to the protected region Entlebuch. This region is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – this protection involves all parties in the region, i.e. its inhabitants, its businesses, its tourism. All of them are involved in order to keep the region authentic and to preserve it as much as possible. The entire region has been protected for 20 years now and serves as a world model for this type of preservation.
In connection with one of the cheeses we have selected, the Hexer Kohle, here is some information about the last charcoal makers of the Entlebuch region, taken from the website “Swiss living traditions”:
“To make charcoal, wood is charred very slowly and under cover in a grinding stone. In the rural community of Romoos, in the Entlebuch region of Lucerne, there are the last professional charcoal makers in Switzerland. They practice this ancient craft as a sideline. In the Napf region, coal has been produced for centuries. As the forests remained unused for a long time, it was not possible to exploit the whole wood and charcoal was produced instead. In the municipality of Romoos alone, more than 200 old charcoal kilns are known to exist. The most time-consuming part of the work is the preparation and construction of an open-air millstone. It consists of stacking wood to a height of four meters and a width of ten. After being lit, the millstone was slowly charred for about two weeks under the watchful eye of the charcoal makers. Finally, the coal was removed. The Romoos charcoal kilns produced about 100 tons of charcoal per year in this way. Until the 1980s, the steel industry bought this production. After that, the charcoal makers specialized in the charcoal grill market.”