Chapter 90.4 General View on French Cheese

Bonjour Mes Amis !

Dexter

I’ve been planning this for a long time and finally here it is a new chapter about cheese , probably one of its most important parts when it comes to cheese:

This is a list of cheeses from France. Traditionally, there are from 350 to 400 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories ‘les huit familles de fromage’. There can be many varieties within each type of cheese, leading some to claim closer to 1,000 different types of French cheese. In 1962, French President Charles de Gaulle was famously quoted as saying “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” (“How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”).

Principales_AOC_France

Protected Designation of Origin or Appelation d’Origine Controlee

Under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, certain established cheeses, including many French cheeses, are covered by a protected designation of origin (PDO), and other, less stringent, designations of geographical origin for traditional specialities, such as the French appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, the Italian denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system, and the Spanish Denominación de origen system.

A complete list of agricultural products with an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the Europa Agriculture site.

French cheese production is classified under four categories, and PDO/AOC rules dictate which category(ies) each protected cheese may be assigned to:

  • Fermier: A farmhouse cheese, which is produced on the farm where the milk is produced.
  • Artisanal: A producer producing cheese in relatively small quantities using milk from their own farm, but may also purchase milk from local farms.
  • Coopérative: A dairy with local milk producers in an area that have joined to produce cheese. In larger coopératives quantities of cheese produced may be relatively large, akin to some industriel producers (many may be classed as factory-made).
  • Industriel: A factory-made cheese from milk sourced locally or regionally, perhaps all over France (depending on the AOC/PDO regulations for specific cheeses).

A map of major AOC cheeses; the size of the cheese symbol equates to the size of production

56 cheeses are classified, protected, and regulated under French law. The majority are classified as Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), the highest level of protection. Some are also protected under the less stringent but still legally regulated designation Label Régional (LR). A few French cheeses are protected under the European Union’s Protected Geographic Indication designation (PGI). Many familiar generic types, like Boursin, are not covered. It may come as a surprise to see varieties of Emmental cheese protected as a French cheese. This list differs from those of AOC status.

So , I’ll start now with short descriptions about most important cheese types :

Abondance

Abondance is a semi-hard, fragrant, raw-milk cheese made in the Haute-Savoie department of France. Its name comes from a small commune also called Abondance. A round of Abondance weighs approximately 10 kg and its aroma is similar to that of Beaufort, also from France. Abondance is made exclusively from milk produced by the Abondance breed of cattle. In 1998, 873 tonnes were produced (+16.4% since 1996), 34% from local farms.

The name “Abondance” actually refers to two different cheeses granted an Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC:

  • Abondance, Savoie, AOC 1990
  • Abondance de Savoie, Savoie, AOC 1990

Banon

Banon is a French cheese made in the region around the town of Banon in Provence, south-east France.

Also known as Banon à la feuille, it is an unpasteurized cheese made from goat‘s milk and is circular in shape, around 7 cm in diameter and 2.5 cm in height, and weighing around 100 g. This pungent uncooked, unpressed cheese consists of a fine soft white pâte that is wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia prior to shipping.

The Provençal specialty fromage fort du Mont Ventoux is made by placing a young banon in an earthenware jar. The cheese is then seasoned with salt and pepper, doused in vinegar and eau-de-vie and left in a cool cellar to ferment. The concoction will last for many years becoming increasingly fierce in taste.

Beaufort

Beaufort (French pronunciation: ​[bo.fɔʁ] is a firm, raw cow’s milk cheese associated with the gruyère family. An Alpine cheese, it is produced in Beaufort, which is located in the Savoie region of the French Alps.

There are three varieties of Beaufort:

  • Beaufort de Savoie (or summer Beaufort)
  • Beaufort d’alpage (made in chalets in the Alps)
  • Beaufort d’hiver (winter Beaufort)

Bleu d’Auvergne

Bleu d’Auvergne is a French blue cheese, named for its place of origin in the Auvergne region of south-central France. It is made from cow’s milk, and is one of the cheeses granted the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée from the French government.

Bleu d’Auvergne is of relatively recent origin, discovered in the mid-1850s by a French cheesemaker named Antoine Roussel. Roussel noted that the occurrence of blue molds on his curd resulted in an agreeable taste, and conducted experiments to determine how veins of such mold could be induced. After several failed tests, Roussel discovered that the application of rye bread mold created the veining, and that pricking the curd with a needle provided increased aeration. It allowed the mold to enter the curd and encouraged its growth. Subsequently, his discovery and techniques spread throughout the region.

Today, bleu d’Auvergne is prepared via mechanical needling processes. It is then aged for approximately four weeks in cool, wet cellars before distribution, a relatively short period for blue cheeses.

Bleu des Causses

Bleu des Causses is a French blue cheese made from cow’s milk. It is considered a mild variant of Roquefort. The cheese has a fat content of 45% and is aged for 3–6 months in Gorges du Tarn’s natural limestone caves.

Bleu de Gex

Bleu de Gex’ (also Bleu du Haut-Jura or Bleu de Septmoncel) is a creamy, semi-soft blue cheese made from unpasteurized milk in the Jura region of France.During production, Penicillium glaucum mold is introduced and the unwashed curds are loosely packed. It is then aged for at least three weeks. To meet Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée guidelines, it must contain only the milk of Montbéliard cows. It is flavorful for a French blue cheese. Each wheel is stamped with the word “Gex”.

Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage

Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage is a mild pasteurized natural rind cow’s milk blue cheese originally produced by monks in the Rhône-Alpes region of France in the 14th century. Now made in the Dauphiné area, the cheese has been a protected Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1998. As a requirement, the cheese has to be composed of milk from Montbéliard, Abondance or Villard cows. The cheese is unpressed and uncooked and contains the mold Penicillium roqueforti. In Larousse‘s Grand Dictionnaire Universel of the 19th century, King Francis I is described as being quite fond of the cheese.

Brie de Meaux

Brie de Meaux is a French brie cheese of the Brie region and a designated AOC product since 1980. Its name comes from the town of Meaux in the Brie region. As of 2003, 6,774 tonnes (-13.4% since 1998) were produced annually.

A modern legend identifies as Brie de Meaux a certain cheese, “rich and creamy”, with an edible white rind that in the eighth century French Emperor Charlemagne first tasted in the company of a bishop and approved, requiring two cartloads to be sent to Aachen annually; the site, not mentioned in the anecdotal but unreliable ninth-century life of Charlemagne, De Carolo Magno by Notker the Stammerer, has become associated with the monastery traditionally founded by Rado in Reuil-en-Brie.

Brie

Brie /brie/ is a soft cow’s milk cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, the flavor quality of which depends largely upon the ingredients used and its manufacturing environment.

Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk. The curd is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating it to a maximum temperature of 37°C. The cheese is then cast into molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a pelle à brie. The 20 cm mold is filled with several thin layers of cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold (Penicillium candidum, Penicillium camemberti) or Brevibacterium linens, and aged in a cellar for at least four to five weeks.

 

If left to mature for longer, typically several months to a year, the cheese becomes stronger in flavor and taste, the pâte drier and darker, and the rind also darker and crumbly, and is called Brie Noir (Fr: black Brie). Around the Île-de-France where Brie is made, people enjoy soaking this in café au lait and eating it for breakfast.

Overripe Brie contains an unpleasant excessive amount of ammonia which is produced by the same microorganisms required for ripening.

Varieties

There are now many varieties of Brie made all over the world, including plain Brie, herbed varieties, double and triple Brie and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Indeed, although Brie is a French cheese, it is possible to obtain Somerset and Wisconsin Brie. Despite the variety of Bries, the French government officially certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.

 

Brie de Meaux, manufactured at the town of Meaux in the Brie region on northern France since the 8th century, was originally known as the “King’s Cheese”, or, after the French Revolution, the “King of Cheeses,” and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.

Brocciu

Brocciu is a whey cheese produced from sheep milk or goat milk. This is notable as a substitute for lactose-rich Italian Ricotta, as brocciu does not contain lactose.

 

Produced on the island of Corsica, Brocciu is considered the national food. Like Ricotta, it is a young white cheese and is paired frequently with Corsican white wines.

 

The word brocciu is related to the French word “brousse” and means fresh cheese made with goat or ewe’s milk.

 

Production of Brocciu: Brocciu is made from whey. First, the whey is heated to a low temperature of just a few degrees below 100 °F and then ewe’s milk is added and further heated to just a bit below 200 °F. After heating, the cheese is drained, the whey removed, and the cheese is finished.

 

Serving of Brocciu: the cheese is ready for consumption immediately, although ripening is acceptable between perhaps a couple weeks to a month. However, the ideal affinage time for Brocciu is 48 hours to one month. Other Corsican sheep’s-milk cheeses are Asco, Brin d’amour (also known as Fleur du Maquis), A filetta, Sarteno and Niolo.

Cabécou

Cabecou is a soft goat cheese that comes from the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. It has a thin striped rind and after 2 weeks its crust grows blue mold changing its taste. It is one of Aquitaine’s most famous foods. Aquitaine is a region in the lower bottom of France. The coloration of this creation is a calm cream color. In Aquitaine, the aroma of this fresh cheese spreads throughout the region.

Cancoillotte

Cancoillotte or Cancoyotte is a runny French cheese made principally in Franche-Comté, but also Lorraine and Luxembourg, where it is also called Kachkéis (cook-cheese). It is a typical cheese in Franc-Comtois gastronomy. It is eaten all year around, served cold or hot.

Cantal

Cantal cheese is a firm cheese from the Cantal region of France. It is named after the Cantal mountains in the Auvergne region. Cantal obtained its Appellation d’Origine in 1956.

 

One of the oldest cheeses in France, Cantal dates back to the times of the Gauls. It came to prominence when marshal Henri de La Ferté-Senneterre served it at the table of Louis XIV of France. Senneterre is also responsible for the introduction of Saint-Nectaire and Salers.

 

There are two types of Cantal cheese. Cantal Fermier is a farmhouse cheese made of raw milk. Cantal Laitier is the commercial, mass-produced version from pasteurized milk; both have to adhere to the same strict quality controls. Cantal is shaped like a cylinder. Cantal is made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk of the Salers breed. For Cantal, the milk of cows that are fed on hay (during 15 November to 15 April) is used; the summer milk of the same cows grazing on mountain meadows makes the Salers cheese.

 

This semi-hard cheese is aged for several months. The form is massive, and the cheese has a soft interior. Its flavor, which is somewhat reminiscent of Cheddar, is a strong, tangy butter taste and grows with age. A well ripened Cantal has a vigorous taste, while a young cheese has the sweetness of raw milk. Its smell is of earth and pasture lands, and is reminiscent of the rich pasture land of the Auvergne region it originates from. According to the time of aging, three varieties are distinguished:

 

  • Cantal jeune (aged 1–2 months)
  • Cantal entre-deux or Cantal doré (aged 2–6 months)
  • Cantal vieux (aged more than 6 months).

 

These are all available as fermier and laitier. Most (>80% of production) Cantal is of the first two varieties. Cantal vieux is already a hard cheese, if kept properly, it can last up to a year and a half without spoiling. It is not produced in large quantities. Much loved in the Cantal region, Cantal vieux is quite rarely exported due to its strong taste, and can usually be found only in specialist stores.

 

Cantal cheese has a fat content of 45%. It is used in soups, salads, aligot potatoes cheese fondue and gratins. Cantal Fermier, like all cheeses made from raw milk, may contain Listeria bacteria on the crust, which should therefore be discarded; it is also not suitable for children, the elderly, or immunocompromised persons.

Camembert

Camembert (French pronunciation: ​[ka.mɑ̃.bɛʁ]) is a soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow‘s milk cheese. It was first made in the late 18th century at Camembert, Normandy in northern France.

Camembert was reputedly first made in 1791 by Marie Harel, a farmer from Normandy, following advice from a priest who came from Brie.

 

However, the origin of the cheese known today as Camembert is more likely to rest with the beginnings of the industrialization of the cheesemaking process at the end of the 19th century. In 1890, an engineer, M. Ridel, invented the wooden box which was used to carry the cheese and helped to send it for longer distances, in particular to America, where it became very popular. These boxes are still used today.

 

Before fungi were understood, the color of Camembert rind was a matter of chance, most commonly blue-grey, with brown spots. From the early 20th century onwards, the rind has been more commonly pure white, but it was not until the mid-1970s that pure white became standard.

 

The cheese was famously issued to French troops during World War I, becoming firmly fixed in French popular culture as a result. It has many other roles in French culture, literature, and history. It is now internationally known, and many local varieties are made around the world.

 

The variety named “Camembert de Normandie” was granted a protected designation of origin in 1992 after the original AOC in 1983.

Cazelle de Saint Affrique

Cazelle de Saint Affrique is a soft-ripened, pungent cheese, made from pasteurized sheep’s milk in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France. It is an artisan cheese, hand-fashioned in small rounds.

 

The cheese derives its name from the cazelle, a stone building common in Aveyron, the area where the cheese originates. Cazelles are used to house hay, and to shelter the local shepherds and their sheep. The Saint Affrique portion of the name references the commune of Saint Affrique, where the cheese is processed.

The cheese is made in a manner similar to Crottin de Chavignol. At six weeks old it has a smooth, dense and slightly gummy texture. The flavor is mildly nutty, with a very clean finish. The edible rind is supple, with a slightly bitter flavor.

Chabichou

Chabichou (also known as Chabichou du Poitou) is a traditional soft, unpasteurized, natural-rind French goat cheese (or Chèvre) with a firm and creamy texture.

 

Chabichou is aged for 10 to 20 days.

The legend of Chabichou goes back to 732, at the time of the defeat of the Arabs in the area, in the 8th century, after the Battle of Poitiers. Many of them left the area but some settled there with their families and, in particular, their goat herds. The countryside was appropriate for grazing the “poor man’s cow”, as the pastures were excellent. The cheese was then named cheblis (“goat”, in Arabic), which would become “chabichou” thereafter. However, the domestication of the goat in this area is supposed to date back to Roman colonization, and extends up to the present.

Chaource

Chaource is a French cheese, originally manufactured in the village of Chaource in the Champagne-Ardenne region.

 

Chaource is a cow’s milk cheese, cylindrical in shape at around 10 cm in diameter and 6 cm in height, weighing either 250 or 450 g. The central pâte is soft, creamy in colour, and slightly crumbly, and is surrounded by a white Penicillium candidum rind.

Chevrotin

Chevrotin is a soft goat’s milk based cheese produced in Haute-Savoie / Upper Savoy (now in eastern France). Since 2002 it has enjoyed an AOC designation.

Comté

Comté (also called Gruyère de Comté) (French pronunciation: ​[kɔ̃.te]) is a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. Comté has the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, around 40,000 tonnes annually.

 

The cheese is made in flat circular discs, each between 40 centimetres (16 in) and 70 centimetres (28 in) in diameter, and around 10 centimetres (4 in) in height. Each disc weighs up to 50 kilograms (110 lb). The fat content is around 45%. The rind is usually a dusty-brown colour, and the internal pâte is a pale creamy yellow. The texture is relatively hard and flexible, and the taste is strong and slightly sweet.

The manufacture of the cheese began as early as the 12th century, when shepherds would spend the summer months in their remote huts of the Jura massif. The distance from towns of any size meant that any cheese they made would need to mature over a period of months. The milk was pooled between neighbouring shepherds, and the huge cheeses would be stored until being carried to market at the end of the season.

 

Once summer had ended, so would production of Comté, with the cows’ milk instead being used to make Vacherin Mont d’Or.

 

Eight départements are now entitled to produce the cheese, each of which surrounds Franche-Comté, and also including parts of Rhône-Alpes.

Crottin de Chavignol

Crottin de Chavignol is the most famous goat cheese of the many varieties produced in the Loire Valley. This cheese is the claim to fame for the village of Chavignol, France, which has only two hundred inhabitants.

Emmental de Savoie

Emmental or Emmentaler is a yellow, medium-hard cheese that originated in the area around Emmental, in Switzerland. It is one of the cheeses of Switzerland, and is sometimes known as Swiss cheese. While the denomination “Emmentaler Switzerland” is protected, “Emmentaler” is not; as such, Emmentaler of other origin, especially from France and Bavaria, is widely available and even Finland is an exporter of Emmentaler cheese.

Emmentaler has a savoury, but not very sharp, taste. Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmentaler: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii. In the late stage of cheese production, P. freudenreichii consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria, and releases carbon dioxide gas, which slowly forms the bubbles that make holes. Failure to remove CO2 bubbles during production, due to inconsistent pressing, results in the large holes (“eyes“) characteristic of this cheese. Historically, the holes were a sign of imperfection, and until modern times, cheese makers would try to avoid them. Emmentaler cheese is used in a variety of dishes, including some types of pizza.

  • Emmentaler Switzerland AOC has been registered since 2000 as an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). This “original Emmentaler” has to be aged for a minimum of four months. It is produced in a round shape with a natural rind and aged in traditional cellars. The original Emmentaler exists with different age profiles: classic – four months, reserve – eight months, and Premier Cru – 14 months. It is produced with raw cow’s milk, adding only natural ingredients (water, salt, natural starter cultures and rennet). Preservatives or ingredients from genetically modified organisms are not allowed. Emmental AOC is still produced in small rural dairies.

 

  • Emmentaler Switzerland Premier Cru is a special Emmentaler aged for 14 months in humid caves. It was the first cheese from Switzerland to win the title World Champion at the Wisconsin (USA) Cheese World Championships in 2006. It was nominated best cheese among over 1,700 competitors. For this achievement, it has received a place in the Historic Museum in Bern, Switzerland.

 

In cooking, it is often put on top of gratins, or dishes which are put in the oven to let the cheese melt and become golden-brown and crusty. It is also used for fondue, in which case it is mixed with Gruyère cheese.

Époisses de Bourgogne

Époisses de Bourgogne is a cheese made in the village Époisses, which is in the département of Côte-d’Or in France. It is located around halfway between Dijon and Auxerre.

 

Commonly referred to as Époisses, it is a pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese. Smear-ripened (washed in marc de Bourgogne, the local pomace brandy), it is circular at around either 10cm or 18cm in diameter, with a distinctive soft red-orange colour. It is sold in a circular wooden box, and is best served with a good dark Trappist beer, or even Sauternes.

 

Napoleon was a particular fan of the cheese, and the famous epicure Brillat-Savarin himself classed it as the “king of all cheeses”.

Fourme d’Ambert

Fourme d’Ambert is one of France‘s oldest cheeses, and dates from as far back as Roman times. It is a (usually) pasteurized cow’s milk blue cheese from the Auvergne region of France, with a distinct, narrow cylindrical shape.

 

The semi-hard cheese is inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti spores and aged for at least 28 days.

 

Almost identical to Fourme de Montbrison, the two were protected by the same AOC from 1972 until 2002 when each was recognized as its own cheese with slight differences in manufacture. A likeness of the cheese can be found sculpted above the entrance to a medieval chapel in La Chaulme (Auvergne, France).

 

Although most often produced with pasteurized milk by industry and Coopératives, more recently artisanal production has begun using raw milk, and farm or fermier production has now restarted. Presently, four farmers produce annually up to 35 tonnes (38.58 tons) of fourme d’Ambert fermière AOP made with raw milk.

Fourme de Montbrison

Fourme de Montbrison is a cow’s-milk cheese made in the regions of Rhône-Alpes and Auvergne in southern France. It derives its name from the town of Montbrison in the Loire department.

 

The word fourme is derived from the Latin word forma meaning “shape”, the same root from which the French word fromage is believed to have been derived.

 

The cheese is manufactured in tall cylindrical blocks weighing between 1.5 and 2 kilograms. The blocks are 13 centimetres in diameter and 19 centimetres tall, although the cheese is most frequently sold in shops in much shorter cylindrical slices.

 

Fourme de Montbrison has a characteristic orange-brown rind with a creamy-coloured pâte, speckled with gentle streaks of blue mould. Its Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée status was granted in 1972 under a joint decree with Fourme d’Ambert, a similar blue cheese also from the same region. In 2002 the two cheeses received AOC status in their own right, recognizing the differences in their manufacture.

 

With a musty scent, the cheese is extremely mild for a blue cheese and has a dry taste.

Maroilles

Maroilles (pronounced mar wahl, also known as Marolles) is a cow’s-milk cheese made in the regions of Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais in northern France. It derives its name from the village of Maroilles in the region in which it is still manufactured.

 

The cheese is sold in individual rectangular blocks with a moist orange-red washed rind and a strong smell. In its mass-produced form it is around 13 cm square and 6 cm in height, weighing around 700 g. In addition, according to its AOC regulations, cheeses eligible for AOC status can be one of three other sizes:

 

  • Sorbais – (3/4) 12-12.5 cm square, 4 cm high, 550 g in weight. ripening: at least 4 weeks.
  • Mignon – (1/2) 11-11.5 cm square, 3 cm high, 350 g in weight. ripening: at least 3 weeks.
  • Quart – (1/4) 8-8.5 cm square, 3 cm high, 180 g in weight. ripening: at least 2 weeks.

Maroilles is often reported to have first been made in 962 by a monk in the Abbey of Maroilles. The cheese rapidly became famous throughout the region and was a favourite of several French kings including Philip II, Louis IX, Charles VI and Francis I.

Mimolette

Mimolette is a cheese traditionally produced around the city of Lille, France. In France, it is also known as Boule de Lille after its city of origin, or vieux Hollande for being made after the tradition of Edam cheese from the Dutch province of North-Holland. In some areas of Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Flanders, it is also known as commissiekaas.

 

It was originally made by the request of Louis XIV, who – in the context of Jean-Baptiste Colbert‘s mercantilistic policies – was looking for a native French product to replace the then very popular Edam. To differentiate it from Edam, however, he had it coloured orange.

 

A cow’s-milk cheese, it normally weighs about 2 kg (approximately 4.5 pounds). Its name comes from the French word molle, meaning “soft”. This refers to the softness of the crust when young – with age it becomes harder. It has a grey crust and orangish flesh. The orange colour comes from the natural colorant, annatto. The cheese has a similar appearance, at first glance, to a cantaloupe melon.

 

The greyish crust of aged Mimolette is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese.

 

Mimolette can be consumed at different stages of aging. When younger, its taste resembles that of Parmesan. Many appreciate it most when “extra-old” (extra-vieille). At that point, it can become rather hard to chew, and the flesh takes a hazelnut-like flavour.

Mont d’Or or Vacherin du Haut-Doubs

Vacherin is a cow‘s milk (French vache, “cow”) cheese. Two main types of French or Swiss Vacherin cheeses exist.

One type of Vacherin cheese is called Mont d’Or, or Vacherin du Haut-Doubs, from France, or Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland (though it tends to just be called Vacherin in the local shops). It is a soft, rich, seasonal cheese made from cow’s milk in Switzerland or France, usually in villages of the Jura region (an origin that has been officially controlled since 1981), and has a grayish-yellow washed rind. It typically contains 45 to 50 percent milk fat (in dry matter), and is produced between August 15 and March 15, and sold between September 10 and May 10. The Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or is generally made with pasteurised milk, while the French Vacherin du Haut-Doubs is unpasteurised. It is traditionally made in the winter months when the cows come down from Alpage and there is not enough milk to make Comte). It is marketed in round boxes of various diameters made of spruce. It is often served warmed in its original packaging and eaten like fondue.

Officially, the French AOC/PDO allows Artisanal and Coopérative production of Mont d’Or. There are 11 producers of Vacherin in France (2009).

The other Vacherin, a firmer Swiss cheese, is called Vacherin Fribourgeois. It is produced under Swiss AOC in the Fribourg canton, where Gruyère also originates. It has a slightly acidic, resiny flavor, akin to Italian Fontina, with a varying strength depending on the age and type. It is also a basic component lending character to fondues (depending on the recipe). Vacherin Fribourgeois has Swiss AOC status with 6 varieties being available:

 

  • Classic (aged: 6–12 weeks)
  • Extra (aged: minimum 12 weeks)
  • Rustic (aged: minimum 12 weeks, but up to 25 weeks (6 months))
  • Alpage (aged: 12–25 weeks)
  • Mountain (aged 9–25 weeks)
  • Bio (Organic) (aged: minimum 9 weeks)

 

This cheese is made between September and April.

Morbier

Morbier is a semi-soft cows’ milk cheese of France named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. It is ivory colored, soft and slightly elastic, and is immediately recognizable by the thin black layer separating it horizontally in the middle. It has a rind that is yellowish, moist, and leathery.

 

Traditionally, the cheese consists of a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. When making Comté (cheese), cheesemakers would end the day with leftover curd that was not enough for an entire cheese. Thus, they would press the remaining evening curd into a mold, and spread ash over it to protect it overnight. The following morning, the cheese would be topped up with morning milk. Nowadays, the cheese is usually made from a single milking with the traditional ash line replaced by vegetable dye.

 

The Jura and Doubs versions both benefit from an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), though other non-AOC Morbier exist on the market.

 

The aroma of Morbier is strong, but the flavor is rich and creamy, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Munster

Munster (French pronunciation: ​[mœ̃stɛʁ]) or Munster-géromé, is a strong tasting, soft cheese made mainly from milk from the Vosges, between Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté in France. Munster is derived from the Alsace town of Munster, where, among Vosgian abbeys and monasteries, the cheese was conserved and matured in monks’ cellars.

This cheese originated in the Admodiation, an area on the top of the Vosgian mountains, named Chaumes” or “Les grandes Chaumes” (comitatus Calvomontensis). Calvomontensis is the Latin word that describes mountaintops without woods.

 

As early as 1371, and possibly before, these territories were occupied by cattle herds driven by men, called “marcaires“, pastured there between May and September. When the herds returned to their valleys, the cattle herdsmen first paid the fees and tithes to the religious and political owners of the summer pastures or simply financiers of these migrations. During feudal times these owners possessed all goods, living creatures, rights of pasture and cattle. Those who herded were known as serfs.

 

This mountain population paid their debts with cheese and jars of butter. The lords were the first religious establishments, women like chanoinesses from Remiremont or from Andlau, or men such as the chanoines or canons from Murbach or Saint-Dié, Benedictines from Munster, Senones, Moyenmoutier, and other monastic areas. Political protectors, included the duke of Lorraine, count of Salm, count of Ribeaupierre, and other Alsatian noblemen.

 

During the 7th century, this tradition, though disappearing, was maintained in two special places, Gerardmer in the western Lorraine part of the main range and Munster for the east and Alsatian part. Hence the two names of this cheese, gérômé and munster written with little type.

Neufchâtel

Neufchâtel is a soft, slightly crumbly, mould-ripened cheese made in the French region of Normandy. One of the oldest cheeses in France, its production is believed to date back to the 6th century. It looks similar to Camembert, with a dry, white, edible rind, but the taste is saltier and sharper. It has the aroma and taste of mushrooms. Unlike other soft-white-rinded cheeses, Neufchâtel has a grainy texture. It is most usually sold in heart shapes but is also produced in other forms, such as logs and boxes. It is typically matured for 8–10 weeks.

American Neufchâtel

In 1872, William Lawrence, a New York dairyman of the township of Chester, created the first American cream cheese as the result of an attempt to create a batch of Neufchâtel. This American Neufchâtel is softer than regular cream cheese due to its approximately 33% lower fat and higher moisture content. Due to this reduced fat content, it is found in most grocery stores as a reduced-fat option to cream cheese. In the United States, this Neufchâtel is sometimes called farmers’ cheese.

Ossau-Iraty

Ossau-iraty is a French cheese made from sheep milk.

Ossau-iraty is produced in south-western France, in the Northern Basque Country and in Béarn. Its name reflects its geographical location, the Ossau Valley in Béarn and the Iraty Valley in the Northern Basque Country.

It has been recognized as an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) product since 1980. It is one of only two sheep’s milk cheeses granted AOC status in France. (The other is Roquefort). Although Ossau-Iraty received AOC status in the 80s, it is of ancient origin, traditionally made by the shepherds in the region.

Pélardon

Pélardon, formerly called paraldon, pélardou and also péraudou, is a French cheese from the Cévennes range of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is a traditional cheese made from goat’s milk. It is round soft-ripened cheese covered in a white mold (à pâte molle à croûte fleurie) weighing approximately 60 grams, with a diameter of 60-70 mm and a height of 22-27 mm. Pélardon has benefited from Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status since August 2000.

Picodon

Picodon is a goats-milk cheese made in the region around the Rhône river in southern France. The name means “spicy” in Occitan.

 

The cheese itself comes in a number of varieties, each small, flat and circular in shape varying from speckled white to golden in colour. Between 5 and 8 centimetres in diameter and between 1.8 and 2.5 centimetres in height, they range from around 40 to 100 grams. The pâte of the cheese is spicy and unusually dry, whilst retaining a smooth, fine texture.

 

Whilst young the cheese has a soft white rind and has a gentle, fresh taste. If aged for longer, the cheese can lose half of its weight resulting in a golden rind with a much harder centre and a more concentrated flavour.

Picodon is manufactured in a number of varieties, each conforming to the AOC regulations. These include:

 

  • Picodon de l’Ardèche – (40-60g) the most common variety, with noticeable acidity.
  • Picodon de Crest – (60g) made with the highest quality milk giving a stronger flavour.
  • Picodon du Dauphiné – generally sold well matured.
  • Picodon de Dieulefit – (40-90g) sold in both young and mature varieties.
  • Picodon de la Drôme – (45g) low acidity, with both salty and sweet flavours.
  • Picodon à l’huile d’olive – marinated in bay and olive oil.

Pont-l’Évêque

Pont-l’Évêque is a French cheese, originally manufactured in the area around the commune of Pont-l’Évêque, between Deauville and Lisieux in the Calvados département of Basse-Normandie. It is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production.

 

Pont-l’Évêque is an uncooked, unpressed cow’s-milk cheese, square in shape usually at around 10 cm square and around 3 cm high, weighing 400g. The central pâte is soft, creamy pale yellow in colour with a smooth, fine texture and has a pungent aroma. This is surrounded by a washed rind that is white with a gentle orange-brown coloration. The whole is soft when pressed but lacks elasticity. It is generally ranked alongside Brie, Camembert, and Roquefort as one of the most popular cheeses in France.

The cheese has been made in Normandy since at least the 12th century, and local legend claims that it was first made in a Norman abbey. A manuscript from the time writes that a fine meal should always end with some “angelot”, the name used for the cheese at the time.

 

The cheese became popular across the country from the 16th century onwards, when it obtained the name of the village around which its production was centred.

Pont-l’Évêque was recognised as an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese on August 30, 1972, reaching full status in 1976. Its production was defined and protected with a decree of December 29, 1986. Le Petit Futé guides commend that the best AOC Pont-l’évêque comes from the Pays d’Auge, which includes the Canton of Pont-l’Evêque itself.

The AOC regulations include the following restrictions:

  • The milk must come from a controlled area around the village of Pont-l’Évêque, extending to the départments of Calvados, Eure, Manche, Mayenne, Orne and Seine-Maritime.
  • The curd must be successively divided, kneaded and then drained.
  • During affinage the cheeses must be washed, brushed and turned.
  • The resulting cheese must be one of three sizes:
    • Petit – 8.5-9.5 cm square, and a minimum of 85g of dry matter.
    • Demi – 10.5-11.5 cm by 5.2-5.7 cm, with a minimum of 70g of dry matter.
    • Grand – 19–21 cm square, with a minimum of 650g of dry matter.

 

The affinage lasts at least two weeks after production, though most are left for over six weeks.

 

The cheese is around 45% fat as a percentage of dry matter and is manufactured throughout the year. Regulations currently allow either pasteurized or unpasteurized milk to be used for its manufacture.

 

The annual production is around 3,500 tonnes, of which the majority is made by two large producers. Only 2% of the production is classed as fermier. Acclaimed manufacturers include Bisson et fils, Lanquetôt, Lepeudry, and Levasseur.

Recipes include use in three-cheese fondue together with livarot and camembert, to accompany tournedos de veau.

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre is a French goats‘-milk cheese made in the Indre department of central France. Its name is derived from the commune of Pouligny-Saint-Pierre in the Indre department where it was first made in the 18th century.

 

The cheese is distinctive, being pyramidal in shape and golden brown in colour with speckles of grey-blue mould, and is often known by the nicknames “Eiffel Tower” or “Pyramid“. It has a square base 6.5 cm wide, is around 9 cm high, and weighs 250 g. The central pâte is bright white with a smooth, crumbly texture that mixes an initial sour taste with salty and sweet overtones. The exterior has a musty odour reminiscent of hay.

 

It is made exclusively from unpasteurized milk. Both fermier (farmhouse) and industriel (dairy) production is used with the fermier bearing a green label, and industriel a red label. Its region of production is relatively small, taking in only 22 communes.

The manufacture is typical of the great goats cheeses of the Loire Valley. The coagulating milk is placed whole into moulds with holes to drain the whey. It is then dried in a well-ventilated cellar with affinage of at least two weeks, although the best examples are left for up to five weeks. Production now occurs all year round although farmhouse manufacturers produce between spring and autumn.

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre received AOC status in 1976. 294 tons were produced in 2005 of which 55% was fermier.

Reblochon

Reblochon (French pronunciation: ​[ʁə.blɔ.ʃɔ̃] is a French cheese from the Alps region of Haute-Savoie and has been granted the AOC title. Reblochon was first produced in the Thônes and Arly valleys, in the Aravis massif. Thônes remains the centre of Reblochon production; the cheeses are still made in the local cooperatives. Until 1964 Reblochon was also produced in Italian areas of the Alps. Subsequently the Italian cheese has been sold in declining quantities under such names as Rebruchon and Reblò alpino.

Reblochon derives from the word ‘reblocher’ which when literally translated means ‘to pinch a cow’s udder again’. This refers to the practice of holding back some of the milk from the first milking. During the 14th century, the landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. The farmers would therefore not fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer, and was traditionally used by the dairymaids to make their own cheese.

 

In the 16th century the cheese also became known as “fromage de dévotion” (devotional cheese) because it was offered to the Carthusian monks of the Thônes Valley by the farmers, in return for having their homesteads blessed.

Raw-milk Reblochon has not been available in the United States since 2004 due to the enforcement of laws concerning the pasteurization of soft and semi-soft cheese. Delice du Jura, a pasteurized soft ripened cheese is a close relative and a good substitute in the United States.

Rigotte de Condrieu

The rigotte de Condrieu is a type of cheese made with goat’s milk which originates in the Lyonnaise region of France and is named after the town of Condrieu.

Rocamadour

Rocamadour is a French cheese from the southwest part of the country. It is produced in the regions of Périgord and Quercy and takes its name from the village of Rocamadour in the département of the Lot.

Rocamadour belongs to a family of goat cheeses called Cabécous and has benefited from being accorded an AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) designation since 1996. It is a very small whitish cheese (average weight 35 g) with a flat round shape (see illustration).

Rocamadour is usually sold very young after just 12-15 days of aging and is customarily consumed on hot toast or in salads. Rocamadour can be aged further. After several months it takes on a more intense flavor and is typically eaten on its own with a red wine toward the end of the meal.

Production: 546 tonnes in 1998 (+24.1% since 1996), 100% with raw, unpasteurized goat milk (50% on farms).

Roquefort

Roquefort (US /ˈrkfərt/ or UK /rɒkˈfɔr/; French: [ʁɔk.fɔʁ]; from Occitan ròcafòrt [ˌrɔkɔˈfɔrt]) is a sheep milk blue cheese from the south of France, and together with Bleu d’Auvergne, Stilton and Gorgonzola is one of the world’s best known blue-cheeses. Though similar cheeses are produced elsewhere, European law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognised geographical indication, or has a protected designation of origin. The cheese is white, tangy, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of green mold. It has characteristic odor and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid; the green veins provide a sharp tang. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, then waxes sweet, then smoky, and fades to a salty finish. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kilograms (5.5 and 6.6 pounds), and is about 10 cm (4 inches) thick. Each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 litres (1.18 gallons) of milk to produce.

History

Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a youth, eating his lunch of bread and ewes’ milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the mold (Penicillium roqueforti) had transformed his plain cheese into Roquefort.

Roquefort, or similar style cheese, is mentioned in literature as far back as AD 79, when Pliny the Elder remarked upon its rich flavour. In 1411 Charles VI granted a monopoly for the ripening of the cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon as they had been doing for centuries. Cheesemaking colanders have been discovered amongst the region’s prehistoric relics.[citation needed]

In 1925 the cheese was the recipient of France’s first Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée when regulations controlling its production and naming were first defined. In 1961 in a landmark ruling that removed imitation, the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Millau decreed that although the method for the manufacture of the cheese could be followed across the south of France, only those whose ripening occurred in the natural caves of Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon were permitted to bear the name Roquefort.

The regulations that govern the production of Roquefort have been laid down over a number of decrees by the INAO. These include:

  1. All milk used must be delivered at least 20 days after lambing has taken place.
  2. The sheep must be on pasture, whenever possible, in an area including most of Aveyron and parts of neighboring départements. At least 3/4 of any grain or fodder fed must come from the area.
  3. The milk must be whole, raw (not heated above 34 °C; 93.2 °F), and unfiltered except to remove macroscopic particles.
  4. The addition of rennet must occur within 48 hours of milking.
  5. The Penicillium roqueforti used in the production must be produced in France from the natural caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
  6. The salting process must be performed using dry salt.
  7. The whole process of maturation, cutting, packaging and refrigeration of the cheese must take place in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine

Sainte-Maure de Touraine is a French cheese produced in the province of Touraine, mainly in the department of Indre-et-Loire. It is named after the small town of Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, in the department of Indre-et-Loire, at equal distance from westly Chinon and eastly Loches.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine is an unpasteurized cheese made from full fat goat’s milk. It has the form of a small log, around 16–17 cm in length, and weighs at least 250 g. It is white and soft under a greyish mouldy rind. It has a straw through its centre, marked by the AOC seal and a number indicating the producer. The straw is used, in the making, to keep the roll together. The finished cheese has 45% milkfat.

Saint-Nectaire

Saint-Nectaire is a French cheese made in the Auvergne region of central France. The cheese has been made in Auvergne since at least the 17th century. Its name comes from the Marshal of Senneterre (a linguistic corruption of “Saint-Nectaire“), who served it at the table of Louis XIV. The Marshal of Senneterre is also responsible for the introduction of Cantal and Salers.

Saint-Nectaire is a pressed, uncooked cheese made from cow‘s milk, mainly of Holstein and Montbéliarde and sometimes Salers. It is circular in shape, around 21 cm in diameter and 5 cm in height, and weighing around 1.7 kg. A smaller version called Petit Saint-Nectaire is also made, measuring 13 cm in diameter, and weighing around 600 g. Both are made from either pasteurized or unpasteurized milk.

It is the first “farmer” AOC cheese in France with 6.000 tons produced each year.

The finished cheese has a grey/brown rind, with white, yellow or red patches that surround a semi-hard pâte that is creamy in appearance with occasional residual holes. This dense cheese has a silky texture with soft acidity, and its taste is similar to that of Reblochon, with hints of hazelnut and mushrooms, due to the aromatic flora where the cheese ages.

Saint-Félicien

Saint-Félicien is a cow’s milk cheese produced in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. In France, it is designated a dauphinois cheese, referring to the former French province Dauphiné where it originated. The cheese is a close cousin of another dauphinois cheese, Saint-Marcellin, and bears a similar texture and taste, though it can be almost twice as large in diameter.

The name originates from the small town where the cheese was first produced and sold. The cheese was originally made from goat’s milk, but since then it has become more common to produce the cheese with cow’s milk. Its creamy interior is encased in a flower-style (fleurie) casing. Its average weight is 180 grams.

The optimal period for flavor occurs between April and September after an aging of 4 to 6 weeks, but it is also excellent consumed between March and December. It is softer and creamier than Cheddar.

One should not confuse this cheese with the goat’s milk cheese called caillé doux, from Saint-Félicien, Ardèche.

Salers

Salers (French: Le Salers) is a French semi-hard cheese from the volcanic region in the mountains of Auvergne, central France. It is a pressed, uncooked cheese made from Salers cow’s milk between the 15 April and 15 November. It is similar to Cantal cheese – which is produced from the same cows’ milk when they are fed on hay during the remaining months of the year – and has been estimated to have been fabricated in this region for at least 2000 years. It came to prominence when Maréchal de Senneterre served it at the table of Louis XIV of France. Maréchal de Senneterre is also responsible for the introduction of Saint-Nectaire and Cantal. Salers has benefited from the Appellation d’origine contrôlée since 1961.[1] It is best eaten between September and March, after an ageing time of nine months, but it is also excellent all year round.

Salers de Buron Traditional is only made up in the chalet (called a ‘buron’ in the Auvergne) in the summer months with milk exclusively from the Salers cow. It must also be made in the traditional wooden ‘gerle’.

It is circular in shape, weighing around 40 kg.

1,112 tonnes were produced in 1998 (+15.1% since 1996). All was made in local farms from unpasteurized milk by about one hundred producers.

Selles-sur-Cher

Selles-sur-Cher is a French goats‘-milk cheese made in the Centre region of France. Its name is derived from the commune of Selles-sur-Cher in the Loir-et-Cher department where it was first made in the 19th century.

The cheese is sold in small cylindrical units, around 8 cm in diameter at the base (reduced to around 7 cm at the top) and 2-3 cm in height, and weighing around 150 g. The central pâte is typical of goats cheese, rigid and heavy at first but moist and softening as it melts in the mouth. Its taste is lightly salty with a persistent aftertaste. The exterior is dry with a grey-blue mould covering its surface and has a musty odour. The mould is often eaten and has a considerably stronger flavour.

Tomme de Savoie

Tomme de Savoie is a variety of Tomme cheese from Savoie in the French Alps. It is a mild, semi-firm cow‘s milk cheese with a beige interior and a thick brownish-grey rind.

Tomme de Savoie, like most Tommes, is usually made from the skim milk left over after the cream is used to make butter or richer cheeses. As a result, the cheese has a relatively low fat content (between 20 and 45%). The cheese is made year-round, and typically has a slightly different character depending on whether the cows are fed on winter hay or summer grass.

The cheese normally comes in discs approximately 18 centimetres (7.1 in) across, 5–8 centimetres (2.0–3.1 in) in thickness, and weighing between 1 and 2 kilograms (2.2 and 4.4 lb). It is first pressed, and then matured for several months in a traditional cellar, which produces the characteristically thick rind and adds flavor.

Tomme des Pyrénées

Tomme des Pyrénées is a French rustic cheese, usually seen covered in a thin black skin.

It was once made only by small farmers for their own consumption and could be made from three different kinds of milk: cow, goat and ewe. First mentioned in the 12th century, it was eaten by the nobles of St-Girons in Ariège and King Louis VI of France also knew the cheese of the Pyrenees. It was only in the 19th century that the manufacture of the cheese moved to a more professional basis, though still hand-crafted.

Trou du Cru

Trou du Cru is a very strong, pungent French cheese, developed by the cheesemaker Robert Berthaut in the early 1980s. It is a pasteurized cow’s milk Époisses cheese from the Bourgogne region.

The soft cheese is ivory-yellow in color, with an orange, edible rind. For four weeks during its maturation, each small cheese is washed individually with Marc de Bourgogne, a strong local alcohol, which imparts a straw-like flavor to the cheese.

Trou du Cru is molded in small (1.5 in, 60 g) rounds, packaged in paper cups; and in medium (4.5 in, 250 g) wheels, packaged in wooden containers.

Valençay

Valençay is a cheese made in the province of Berry in central France. Its name is derived from the town of Valençay in the Indre department.

Distinctive in its truncated pyramidal shape, Valençay is an unpasteurised goats-milk cheese weighing 200-250g and around 7cm in height. Its rustic blue-grey colour is made by the natural moulds that form its rind, darkened with a dusting of charcoal. The young cheese has a fresh, citric taste, with age giving it a nutty taste characteristic of goats cheeses.

The cheese achieved AOC status in 1998 making Valençay the first region to achieve AOC status for both its cheese and its wine.

 

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Published on May 31, 2013 at 13:30  Leave a Comment  

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