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Tips from a Master Cheesemaker

“Tips for choosing cheese”

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Buy in season

Cheeses are in fact seasonal produce. It is therefore advisable to enjoy them at recommended times of the year which take account of the duration and complexity of the maturing process to ensure that the cheeses express themselves fully.

Remember:

  • Spring is the time of year when cheeses begin to shine, a period which culminates with the arrival of summer. Herds graze in the pastures allowing the milk to acquire new aromas which makes for cheeses with even more flavour. More than anything this is the season for goat's cheese. Make sure you don't miss it.
  • Summer - cheeses have finished maturing and can be enjoyed at their optimum ripeness. This is the season to taste the best Camembert, the best Saint Nectaire as well as, more generally, all soft-ripened cheeses with washed or bloomy rinds. The summer milk leaves Autumn cheeses with more moderate aromas as the intense summer heat gradually causes the green grass to become drier and impoverished.
  • Autumn brings a second youth to the pastures and restores some of their quality. Blue cheeses thus retain their summer flavours, goat's cheeses gain in strength and soft cheeses are still enjoyable.
  • Winter brings poor weather and excess humidity meaning that there is no fresh grass for the herds which are thus fed on straw or, at worst, silage. Their milk is therefore less rich and has less character and the cheeses it produces are far from their optimum in terms of flavour. One exception is the Vacherin-Mont d'Or which is traditionally produced in the autumn-winter period and which enjoys super quality at this time of year thanks to the originality of its recipe.

Long-keeping or reserve cheeses, that is those which are matured for a long time (Cantal, Laguiole, Salers and others such as Comté, Beaufort and Abondance) offer great flavour all year round, if they have been produced during the spring-summer grazing period. They can be recognised as they are more yellow than those produced in winter.

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Favour the authentic flavour of raw, unpasteurised milk and accept the variations in character found in traditional cheeses.

For example, a true Camembert can only come from Normandy and, in short, only raw milk genuinely expresses the terroir.


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Avoid being set in your ways and do away with preconceptions.

Learn to describe what you enjoy in terms of taste and texture rather than in terms of appellation. When buying, tell us when and for what occasion you intend to serve the cheese. Be curious - there is a vast range of flavours to try and endless opportunities to discover something new.


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Choose quality of flavour over external appearance and don't hesitate to request a tasting.

Don't judge too much on shape or appearance when choosing a cheese. True farm-produced, raw milk cheeses often vary visually. Place your trust in us and don't hesitate to ask us questions or request a tasting - we have selected and matured the cheeses ourselves and will be able to guide you in your choice.


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Opt for small quantities.

Cheeses, when kept for a long time at home, often in unsuitable conditions, lose their flexibility and suffer a change in flavour. It is therefore usually preferable to buy small quantities. This way, cheeses will remain ripe and you will enjoy them in the best conditions possible.


Give a clear description of what you are looking for and make sure you have been understood.

Whether you are the guest of cheese lovers or it is you doing the inviting, you know all too well that the cheese course is a special and important moment of the meal. That is why it is important to carefully consider the occasion at which the cheese will be served (at home, at a function, during a celebration, etc). Let us know what you are looking for and any constraints you may have and we will be able to help you to make the right choice.