Mont D'Or Vacherin at Provender Brown September 22, 2017 15:14
There’s no secret that we love our seasonal ingredients here at PB. From the burst of sweet Perthshire berries in May to the tangy citrus flavours of the Seville oranges in January, we are willing slaves to Mother Nature’s best work. Late September though is one of our favourites with first of the Vacherin Cheese arriving from its mountainous origins in Franche-Comté.
It is here that herds of brown-and-white Montbéliarde cows – milk producers for vacherin, aka Mont d’Or – produce the creamy milk required for the famous round vacherin cheeses. Fed on grass all summer and hay all winter, with not a pesticide in sight, the cheese has been the centre of an AOC battle for years!
It dates back to around the 13th century and has been produced on both sides of theFrench – Swiss border. The French refer to it as Mont d’Or or Vacherin du Haut-Doubs; the Swiss as Vacherin Mont d’Or. Both, in our opinion, are equally delicious.
Due to this long-time clash of ideals, it is now produced under strict AOC regulations. Mont d’Or can only be produced between August 15th and March 15th and sold between September 10th and May 10th. Hence our annual excitement as the cheese reaches Scottish shores sometime around the end of September.
The strict guidelines work their way into everything from the height at which the cattle must graze - 700m (2,297ft) - to the time of day the milk must be in the vats for the process to start - 12 noon in case you’re interested, and that means a 4am start!
Once in their spruce moulds, the cheeses are put to rest in for two weeks, during which time they are brushed three or four times by hand with water and salt to get rid of any excess mould. After two weeks, the spruce bands are split and the cheeses are squeezed into the familiar round wooden boxes, before being topped with a lid and popped into a wet, cold fridge for 20 more days.
There are only 11 makers of Mont d’Or in France, all operating within a narrow strip of land – about 30 miles long, 12 miles wide – along the Swiss/French border. We sell the traditional Mont d’or and I have to say, I am partial to it baked in the oven and then used as a lux, creamy dip for some of our fresh crusty bread.
My recommendation is that you buy it now, enjoy it while it lasts and tell everyone you know to do the same!
Image copyright @ By ja:User:NEON / User:NEON_ja - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3235352