Cantal Cheese, one of the oldest French cheeses

Cantal Cheese
Visible small grains

Cantal cheese is a hard or semi-hard cheese, which has the form of a large bright yellow cylinder.

It is produced in the Monts du Cantal and is one of the oldest French cheeses.

Our Gallic ancestors already produced it more than two thousand years ago!

The Fourme (fromage) de Cantal made an official entry in style.

It was indeed served – along with St-Nectaire and Salers – on the table of King Louis XIV, thanks to Henri II de Senectère, Count of Auvergne!


There are two kinds of Cantal cheese.

Cantal fermier (farmhouse cheese) is produced from raw milk and represents 80% of the annual production.

Cantal Cheese labels
Cantal Cheese labels

Cantal laitier (diary cheese) is produced on large scale from pasteurized milk.

Cantal cheese is exclusively produced from Salers cow’s milk collected during the winter season (November 15 to April 15) when the cows are in the barn and fed hay.

Once collected, the milk is inoculated with rennet (a natural enzyme found in the cows’ stomach) in order to trigger coagulation.

The curd is cut down into small grains whose size vary between those of wheat and maize kernels.

The grains are drained from their whey and packed tightly in a compact mass or cake.

This curd cake undergoes progressive pressing, before being sliced in individual cheeses.

The sliced curd cake is turned upside down at least twice.

Cow advertising Cantal Cheese
Advertising cow

The individual cheeses are turned out and left to settle for a minimum of 10 hours.

This phase promotes the development of lactic acid bacteria in milk.

They are then covered in salt and left for one hour minimum; they are then placed in a mould lined with a thin linen.

It’s at this stage of production that a green label is placed on the Cantal fermier, and a brown one of the pasteurized Cantal laitier.

The cheeses are once more slowly pressed: 12 hours for a small Cantal and 18 hours for large one.

Finally, they go through a ripening phase of 1 to 6 months and develop a stronger flavour as they mature.

The Cantal Vieux hardens through the months and can be kept up to a year!

Patience is the mother of all virtues…

 Credits: Photo Labels ©PapyPoustache – Source article Jean Piludu  – Translated and edited by and for Travel France Online

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