Filed under: Artisan Cheese & Deli
One of our cheese buyers here at Plum Market just came home from the East of France where he visited the fruitiére, pictured below. French farmers have been producing cheese here for over 2,000 years! Comté cheese has been made in the Massif du Jura region of France since the middle ages.
It was the long, hard winters in the Jura regions that forced the farmers of this region to find a way to keep cheese through the winter. Little did they know that this process would become such a popular tradition still today. The non-intensive agricultural craft of producing Comté is now practiced in over 3,000 family farms. Its production remains based on traditional methods and has strict rules for each stage.
The cheese-making process begins when local farmers bring their milk daily to the fruitiére. The cheesemaking house was given this name based on the idea that “milk bears fruit”. These fruitiéres are normally the village centers and have become the heart of every community. Farmers bring in their milk every day of the year, as Comté must begin its cheesemaking process within 24 hours of the milk being collected. Once the cheese is made, it begins the maturing process to acquire its distinctive flavor. For this, Comté cannot be hurried.
The large rounds of Comté sit on spruce boards, rubbed with a brine solution called morge, turned over and salted regularly. This process will last anywhere between 4-18 months or up to 10 years! Once it has matured, it becomes soft, smooth and supple. Be sure to ask one of our Artisan Cheese experts for a sample next time you’re in Plum Market!