Originally from the Swiss Alps, raclette cheese was once made from the cows that grazed the sweet grasses along the countryside. This semi-hard nutty cheese is wrought with holes and boasts a creamy texture. It is ideal for melting because of its fat content and moisture ratio. Used in traditional dishes like fondue, it has its own specialized grill. Today, raclette is made in Germany, France, Austria and Finland. As a cheese hard to come by, you can use alternative cheeses to replace its taste and melting consistency.
Jarlsberg cheese is a Norwegian cheese that is similar to raclette because it shares the same nutty flavor and texture. Like raclette it has holes, which are a sign of bacteria being put in the cheese at the time of production. It is made in the same style as many Swiss cheeses, yet is slightly sweeter than cheeses like Emmentaler. Jarlsberg is oftentimes melted on sandwiches and used as a fondue, which makes it an appropriate alternative to raclette. You can find this cheese at most grocery stores and specialty food shops. The cheese is generally cured from 1 to 15 months. The older the cheese the stronger the flavor will be. If you use a more aged cheese for serving fondue, use dipping components that won't compete with the flavor.
Emmentaler cheese originated in Switzerland, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Swiss cheese. It is a yellow medium-hard cheese that is characterized by its prominent holes. Three bacteria are used in the production of the cheese, which create carbon dioxide, thus forming the bubbles that are the holes. It is made from cow's milk and aged from 4 to 14 months before making it to grocery store shelves. Used in gratins and fondues, it is commonly used as a substitute for raclette cheese because of its taste and melting capacity. Unlike raclette, it is harder and must be melted to reach that comparable texture.
Greyere cheese is a hard, light yellow cheese once only made in Switzerland. It is sweet and slightly salty much like raclette, yet does not have any holes. When substituting for raclette, look at the age. The more aged this cheese is the less like raclette it tastes. It begins to take on an earthy taste and grainy texture. Gruyere is one of the most popular cheeses for fondues and baking. The younger cheeses have no overpowering taste, which do not compete with other ingredients. Wisconsin is a large producer of this cheese, thus making it easy to get at most grocery stores.