In France, you can find many of the best cheeses in the world, and there is so much variety from region to region and town to town, that we had to put this blog post together to simply better understand the mountainous amounts of fromage available.
The French have around 3500 different Cheeses, made up of 1200 cheese varieties, divided into 8 families, established mainly according to the texture of the cheese dough.
- Fresh or white, unripened products
Fresh cheeses or white cheeses are cheeses that have not been ripened. Cheeses with a creamy and melting texture, they are also characterized by their high water content, the dry matter being most often of the order of 23%. They have a sweet flavor, slightly tart, sometimes flavored.
Inside this family of cheeses, we will distinguish three sub-categories with:
Fresh cheeses such as faisselle and fromage blanc. They are both very rich in water.
The cheeses such fresh or small Swiss square are firmer and softer, due to a greater draining.
Finally each region has its specialties of fresh cheeses, like the bush of Provence or the crémets of Anjou for example.
- Soft cheeses with floral rind
The cheeses of this family go through a controlled refining. It is cheese with a white crust and a fluffy texture. The dough is smooth and unctuous. They are attributed to mushroom, yeast, moss and even moist earth, and their flavor is reminiscent of mushroom, hazelnut and butter. Among these cheeses are the best known as Camembert, Brie and Neufchâtel.
- Soft cheeses with washed rind.
These cheeses, known for their strong smell, are none the less appreciated. They are characterized by a humid crust of orange color. The color of their dough is similar to the ivory color. If their smell is strong, so much the flavor of these cheeses is generally less marked. Among the best known of these include the Bishop Bridge, the Maroilles or the Mont d'Or.
- Uncooked pressed dough cheeses with cow's milk and ewes
Uncooked pressed cheeses may be cheeses made from cow's milk or sheep's milk. Milk can also be raw or pasteurized. It is the cheese crust that gives them all their flavor and aroma. It can be more or less thick depending on the length of ripening. Milk also, if it is cow or sheep, imposes its taste on cheeses. There are thirty or so uncooked pressed cheeses on French soil. Among the best known include the Reblochon, the volume of Savoy, the port Salut or the Cantal. Often these cheeses owe their name to the abbeys that gave birth to them.
- Marbled dough cheeses: essentially mountain specialties
Marbled cheeses can be made from cow's milk or sheep's milk as well. Whatever the milk, these are cheeses that are found rather in the mountainous regions of France. The best known of them for cow's milk are Blue or Fourme d'Ambert, and for sheep's milk, Roquefort is a must.
- Cooked pressed dough cheeses
Cheeses made from cow's milk, cooked pressed cheeses are sprinkled with more or less important openings depending on the variety. Known for their finesse and fruity aroma, their texture can be tender, mellow or firm. The best known of these cheeses are Comté, Gruyère or Emmental.
- Goat’s cheeses
There is a multitude of goat cheese. Crottins, pucks, bricks, logs, sticks, pyramids, corks, box goats ... They have different textures and tastes, from which comes the goat flavor. The cheeses can be made from raw or pasteurized goat's milk. Some are also made from a mixture of goat's milk and cow's milk, with a minimum goat content of 50%. Among the most famous goat cheeses are the Chevrotin, the Chavignol dung, the Pélardon, the Rocamadour or the Chabichou du Poitou.
- Last cheese family: the so-called Melted cheeses
They are obtained by melting cheese or a cheese mixture. Other types of dairy products may also be added to this mixture, as well as herbs or spices, under certain conditions. Most cheeses are known as a registered trademark by a company. These can be creams of Gruyère or Roquefort cheese, walnuts, cheese spreads, appetizer cubes or mini-snack cheeses.
We know that when we are in France we try as many as possible and cheese is always served after the meal and generally before a dessert ()if you have room)
Have you tried any of these French cheeses? Which one is your favorite ?