10 answers to questions about Bündnerfleisch:


What is Bündnerfleisch?

Bündnerfleisch (dry-cured beef from the Grisons) is both a designation of origin and a registered brand name and now since recently a registered and protected geographical declaration (in German "Geschützte Geographische Angabe = GGA). Accordingly, Bündnerfleisch is guaranteed genuine only if it is marked with the label "zertifizierte GGA ABCert (SCES 038)" and possibly additionally with the official Bündner­fleisch logo containing a graphic representation of Switzerland and of the territory of the Canton of the Grisons and bearing the heading Graubünden (the German name for the Grisons).


Where is Bündnerfleisch produced?

Bündner­fleisch is an exclusive product from the territory of the Canton of the Grisons. This speciality owes its outstanding reputation to the unique natura­l clima­tic conditions of this region which have allowed Bündnerfleisch to be produced prac­tically without any technical aids from time immemorial. The decades of experience have made it possible to develop cleverly devised facilities for the refinement phase with which the same climatic factors are created corresponding to the natura­l conditions in the mountain valleys of the Grisons during the win­ter months. Thus in the course of time it has become possible to produce the much sought-after dry-cured meat speciality in the summer months too.


The large number of small and smallest producers, and all the larger producing companies refine the raw material as it has always been done in the dry and clear mountain air of the Grisons, to the north of the Alps always at an altitude of between some 800 – 1,800 m (2600 – 5900 ft) above sea level. Only in the southern valleys of the Grisons may the refinement also be carried out in lower lying areas.


What raw materials are refined into Bündnerfleisch?

Only the finest pieces of the biceps femoral muscle of the bovine species may be used for the manufacture of Bündnerfleisch. Experts distinguish the four permitted pieces of muscle as follows: In addition to edges or top sides, Bündnerfleisch is also produced from the lower cut/­undersides, round chunks and scapula, and the round and flat kernel. A particular geo­gra­phic origin of the raw materials used (The Grisons, Switzerland or South America) is not stipulated and, in the opinion of experts, has far less effect on the quality of the product than the specialist refinement in the dry and fresh air of the mountain valleys of the Grisons. 


How is Bündnerfleisch produced?

The aforementioned pieces of muscle, what are known as fascia of beef, are freed of fat and sinews and, with the addition of common salt, spices, saltpetre and possibly further ingredients, are arranged in layers in a container and stored there for three to five weeks at tempe­ratu­res near to freezing point. In the course of this, a first loss of water and what is known as pickling of the raw meat take place. Afterwards, as a rule, the pieces of meat are washed and then either kept for a further five to ten days at similarly low temperatures or for some days at initially higher and then lower temperatures. Then follows the drying phase for 5 - 17 weeks at temperatures up to a maximum of 18 °C.


What is typical for Bündnerfleisch is that natural preservation takes place without any further measures to improve the keeping quality, such as, for example, smoking. What is also, however, typical is the rectangular shape which comes about through pressing several times in the course of the drying phase. This serves both for shaping the piece and for the better distribution of the moisture present inside between the core and border zones.


Why was Bündnerfleisch registered as GGA and not as GUB?

Registration of Bündnerfleisch as a protected geographic declaration (GGA) is linked with comprehensive protection in that every direct or indirect commercial use of this designation is forbidden both for comparable products which do not meet the specifications and for non-comparable products which take advantage of this product's good reputation. This protection from imitations and misuse of the registered names is exactly the same for the protected designations of origin (GUB) and for the geo­graphical declarations (GGA). This and the fact that there is far too little raw material available in the Canton of the Grisons to meet the requirements of Bündnerfleisch producers caused the Association of Bündnerfleisch Producers (Verband Bündner Fleisch­fabrikanten) to have a GGA registration instead of a GUB one.


What is also important in connection with the protection of the registered designation is the agreement reached between Switzerland and the European Union within the scope of bilateral treaties under which it is expressly recognised that the protection of GUB and GGA represents an important element in cross-border trade which is why mutual recognition of registered designations should take place.


How much Bündnerfleisch is actually produced?

Annual production amounts to some 1,850 t at present, with an encouragingly rising trend. Some 1,000 t of this are sold within Switzerland through wholesalers, specialist stores and the catering trade. The remaining some 850 t are exported primarily to European Union countries, but also to the USA and the Far East. 


What does Bündnerfleisch contain?

In the course of salting and drying, the meat loses nearly half of its original weight. Bündnerfleisch ready for consumption is thus a highly concen­trated, nutritious and easily digestible foodstuff. 100 g of Bündnerfleisch contain on average 40 g of high quality protein and just some 5 g of fats. In addition, it is rich in vitamins B1, B2 and pp (niacin), iron as well as in further mine­ral­s and trace elements. On account of its easy digestibility, its high satiation value and the good utilisation of the energy supplied in the organism, Bündnerfleisch meets all the prerequisites for a healthy and nutritious foodstuff.


How does Bündnerfleisch offer the greatest enjoyment?

Traditionally Bündnerfleisch is cut across the fibre in as thin slices as possible and arranged on plates or platters. Nothing more is needed!


Ideal companions to Bündnerfleisch are fresh, crusty bread and a glass of good red ­wine. However, Bündnerfleisch can also be enjoyed as a trimming for the most varied dishes, such as melons, raclette or fondue. As a speciality, fine strips or dices of Bündnerfleisch also form part of numerous typical regional dishes in the Grisons, such as capuns, barley soup, etc.


How should Bündnerfleisch be kept?

Whole pieces of Bündnerfleisch are best kept wrapped in a cloth or waxed paper in a cool cellar or in a refrigerator. Freshly cut Bündnerfleisch from the specialist shop should be eaten as far as possible within 24 hours. On the other hand, if packed in vacuum bags or in airtight dishes, Bündnerfleisch can keep for several weeks. However, the packing should be opened about one hour before consumption and kept at room temperature, because only in this way does this unique, typically Swiss dry-cured meat speciality reveal its full aroma and offer the guarantee for the greatest enjoyment.


Where can you obtain further information and the addresses of retailers?

Verband Bündner Fleischfabrikanten, Secretariat, PO Box 516, CH-7002 Chur, Tel. +41 (0) 81 257 04 30, fax +41 (0) 81 257 04 32,



VBF, December 2000