The Vacherin season is back. Made from the rich, unpasteurised milk of alpine pastures, this cheese has a melting, voluptuous texture.
How Much Cheese To Buy
We recommend a portion size of 70-120g per person depending on when you are eating the cheese. 70g is ample if you are serving the cheese immediately after a large meal or as part of a buffet. If the cheese is the main part of the meal you will need to allow at least 100g per person and you may prefer to go to 120g if you think your guests will be particularly hungry (or just very fond of cheese!).
However, if you are only a small party, you may find that the pieces look a little small. In this case, choose fewer pieces, or even just one cheese, so that you can present your guests with something that looks more substantial. If you want to provide a wider choice of cheeses, just go for slightly larger pieces and enjoy the leftovers yourself the next day.
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Vacherin Mont d’Or is only made between the 15th August and 15th March, when the cows have come down the mountain from their high summer pastures, and their milk is too fatty and not plentiful enough to make whole Comté wheels. The Comté co-operatives then turn their hands to making this truly seasonal cheese.
There are only 11 producers of Vacherin Mont d'Or, and most of the cheese-makers operate as co-ops, and have done for centuries, so that they may pool enough milk from each small mountain farmer to make Comtés, which have sufficient life to be transported to markets far away.
Washed for about three weeks, Vacherin Mont d’Or is then wrapped in spruce bark, and crammed into a box that creates the rippled top. The cheese is aged for a further two to three weeks, allowing various natural moulds to form, and the formation of a slightly velvety, sometimes mottled appearance (in contrast to the stickier orange rind that is found on more washed cheeses, such as Epoisses). It is rich and voluptuous, with a resinous flavour from the spruce bark that encircles it.
In Paris, they bake Vacherin Mont d’Or, but, in the Jura, where the cheese comes from, they just spoon it straight from the box and enjoy the rich, voluptuous texture and full fruity flavour.