Cheeses - Auvergne - Massif Central - France
The four categories of French cheeses
Cheeses are a National Treasure - this is what most french people will tell you!
France indeed produces hundreds of different types of cheeses, which are grouped in four categories.
Fromages Fermiers (farmhouse cheeses) are made in the farm where the milk is produced.
Fromages Artisanaux are made on a smaller scale from the milk produced in the farm and complemented with milk from another farm.
Fromages Coopérative are produced in a dairy that collects milk from a group of farms located in the region of production.
Fromages Industriels (processed cheese) are produced on a large scale in a dairy with the milk collected from farms located in the region of production and different regions of France.
The eight families of French Cheeses
Fromages Frais or cottage cheese have not ripen yet and have no crust (i.e. fromage blanc…)
Fromages à pâte molle et à croûte fleurie or soft cheese have a white and velvety crust produced by spraying penicillium candidum after the whey has drained (i.e.St Marcelin ...)
Fromages à pâte molle à croûte lavée are soft cheese whose crust is washed by hand after complete drainage of the whey (i.e. Munster ...)
Fromages à pâte pressée cuite or hard cheeses are produced essentially from cow milk; their curd is heated then drained (i.e. Cantal, Emmental, Comté ...)
Fromages de chèvre are goat cheeses.
Fromages fondus or processed cheeses are produced from the blending of various types of cheese (soft cheese, hard cheese, cottage cheese etc…)
Finally, each family consists of a wide selection.
French therefore believe they have up to 1000 to choose from!
Isn’t this Heaven?!
A food protected by French AOC and AOP
Most French people strongly believe that 'a meal without cheese is a day without sun!'
The choice is unlimited and none is better than the others, it is just a question of taste!
Each French region produces unique and delicious cheeses.
56 of these are classified, protected, and regulated by an AOC - Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée (Designation of Geographical Origin) and an AOP - Appellation d’Origine Protegée (Protected Designation of Origin).
The AOP not only defines the geographical origin of a product, but it also helps protect the know-how and ancestral techniques that pertain to that product.
Auvergne on a large cheese plate
Auvergne produces five cheeses, which have all been granted the label AOP.
They all bear the name of the villages or region where they are produced.
You'll therefore enjoy tasting some Salers, Saint Nectaire and Fourme d'Ambert, some Bleu d'Auvergne and Cantal.
These are all made from milk mostly produced by the Salers cow breed.
You won't necessarily find all them all outside France, and if you do, the quality might not be as good.
They would indeed have traveled and been stored for an unknown period, so I suggest you try them all when you visit Auvergne!
You'll find them in any fromagerie (cheese shop) of course, but also in most supermarkets.