The figures around 400 seem to indicate types or families of cheeses. But if
we look at the products themselves, the figure is well over 1000 specimens.
Only certainty: there are 46 AOP (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheeses.
Of these, 29 are made with cow’s milk, 14 with goat’s milk and 3 with sheep’s
In any case, France remains the
blessed land of cheese!
Ossau-iraty is produced in south-western France.
Its name reflects its geographical location, the Ossau
Valley in Béarn and the Irati Forest in the Basque Country. It is of ancient
origin, traditionally made by the shepherds in the region.
It is one of only two sheep’s milk cheeses granted AOC, status in France
since 1980 s. (The other is Roquefort).
Production techniques are very much in the essence of old world methods
whereby the sheep still graze mountain pastures. The milk must come from the
breeds Basco-béarnaise, Red-face Manech, or Black-face Manech. This is an uncooked cheese
made through pressing. When offered as a farm-produced cheese (known as fromage
fermier, fromage de ferme or produit fermier) the AOC
regulations stipulate that only raw, unpasteurized milk be used.
It 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. It was originally made from goat’s milk, but since then it has become
more common to produce it with cow’s milk. Its creamy interior is encased in a
flower-style (fleurie) casing. Its average weight is 180 grams (6.3 oz).
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
Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) is a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s
milk in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France ,
including Doubs , Jura, Haute-Saône, Territoire de Belfort. In fact one of the
most beautiful French region , where I was born in the City of Besançon a
long time ago.
Comté has the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, around 64,000 tonnes
The cheese is made in flat circular discs, each between 40 cm and
70 cm in diameter, and around 10 cm in height. Each disc weighs up to
50 kg with an FDM 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.
Fresh from the farm, milk is poured into large copper vats where it is
gently warmed. Each cheese requires up to 600 litres of milk. Rennet is added,
causing the milk to coagulate. The curds are then cut into tiny white grains that are the size of
rice or wheat which are then stirred before being heated again for around 30
minutes. The contents are then placed into moulds and the whey is pressed out.
After several hours the mould is opened and left to mature in cellars, first
for a few weeks at the dairy, and then over several months elsewhere.
The manufacture of Comté has been controlled by AOC regulations since it became one
of the first cheeses to receive AOC recognition in 1958.
Commonly referred to as Époisses, it is a pungent soft-paste cows-milk cheese.
‘washed rind’ (washed in brine and marc de Bourgogne, the local pomace
brandy), it is circular at around either 10 cm or 18 cm in
diameter, with a distinctive soft red-orange color. It is made either from raw
or pasteurized milk.
It is sold in a circular wooden box,
and in restaurants, is sometimes served with a spoon due to its extremely soft
Bleu des Causses is a French blue cheese made from raw milk of Montbeliarde
and Aubrac breeds of cow. (a close
cousin to Roquefort)
It is produced in the Languedoc
region of southern France and was granted AOC in 1979.
Traditionally, the cheese was made from a mixture of sheep’s milk mixed
either with cow’s or goat’s milk. But according to French cheese laws, the
cheese came to be made exclusively from cow’s milk.
Bleu des Causses has a high fat content of 45% and is matured for at least
seventy days. However, the cheese can also be matured for up to six months in
Gorges du Tarn’s natural limestone caves to develop a full and fine flavour.
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