There are many types of cheese that the French make. They each go best with different foods. They all have a unique taste. The cheeses are made with either cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk. Here are several different types.
Beaufort cheese is named for Beaufort, a small town in the French Alps. It is made with milk from cows that feed only from natural pastures. This cheese is aged between four and six months in a cool mountain cellar. A wheel of Beaufort cheese is usually between eighty and ninety-nine pounds and is made from about one hundred and thirty gallons of milk. It is richer and creamier than other mountain cheese and smells like butter, milk, and honey. This type of cheese tastes best with smoked salmon. It melts easily and is good for sandwiches and fondue.
Cantal cheese is one of France’s oldest cheeses. It is named after the mountains in Auvergne, where it comes from. The milk is first warmed to ninety degrees, then pressed to separate the whey. Then, during the eight hours that it is left, lactic acids develop in the cheese. Then, three or four more times, it is salted and pressed again. Cantal cheese sets between one to six months, depending on how old one wants the cheese. This cheese tastes stronger, the older it gets. The taste is a nutty flavor. It goes best with nuts or fruits and in salads, soups, fondues, or gratins.
Camembert cheese is one of the most famous of French cheeses. It is named after the village where it was first created. When the cheese first starts to age, it is crumbly. Then it gets creamier. Legally, it must age at least twenty-one days. Camembert cheese tastes delicately salty, and the paste should look like it is clear yellow. It is usually eaten with baguette bread, but is also good with fruit and nuts. It is best to eat the cheese when it is at room temperature.
Epoisses cheese was first made by monks in the heart of Burgundy, France. The milk is taken from cows that have fed for three months on the grasses of Burgundy. First, salty water is used to wash the cheese. It is stored in a humid cellar, where after one month, it is washed with a mix of rain water and Marc de Bourgogne’s spirit two to three times a week. Epoisses cheese has a powerful rich salty and creamy flavor. The smell is very pungent. It is best eaten with raisin bread.
Aisy Cendre Cheese
Aisy Cendre cheese is made from Epoisses cheese. Some young Epoisses cheese is salted and washed with Marc de Bourgogne. Then for one month, it is buried in oak ash. Its center is white and almost unripe. The cheese tastes strongly of hazelnut and walnut. It is best eaten on a cheeseboard.
Banon cheese is made mostly of goat’s milk, but has a little bit of cow’s milk added. It is usually allowed to premature for one to two weeks, during which time it is salted. Then it is washed with a local Marc de Bourgogne and enclosed with chestnut leaves. Straw or raffia is used to tie the leaves on. The leaves help keep the cheese fresh over the winter. The flavor of Banon cheese is fruity and woody. The cheese is creamy and best after having been ripened for several weeks. It is good to eat with fresh fruits.
Roquefort cheese has been around for a long time. Pliny the Elder, in 79AD mentioned it’s rich smell. Red Lacaune sheep that feed on the grasses of Rouergue, Causses in the Aveyron give the milk that is used for this cheese. For a minimum of four months, the cheese matures naturally in the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. It tastes creamy and soft and is very good when eaten with nuts and figs.
There are many other varieties of French cheese. You can read about them at http://www.cheese-france.com/. Be sure to buy some different French cheeses and try something new.