The Beaufort PDO is a cheese exclusively produced with cow's milk, whole and raw, coming from Tarine and Abondance breeds located in the production area, and it belongs to the Gruyere cheeses.
Production method: it is produced with milk obtained from animals which are mostly nurtured with pasture grass in summer and hay in winter, whilst fermented and silo fodders are forbidden. After the milking, which occurs once a day, the milk is immediately coagulated raw with calf rennet, in line with the ancient artisanal practise. Once obtained the curd, it is reduced, then heated, mixed and put into linen cloths which are laid in moulds and pressed by means of wooden bands called Beaufort circles. The pressing phase lasts 20 hours, and after this, the cheese is put into salt brine and ripened in cellars for a period spanning from minimum 5 to maximum 12 months.
Appearance and Flavour
Beaufort PDO has a pressed paste, cooked and without holes; its colour spans from ivory to straw yellow depending on the processing period and features a soft and fondant consistency. It has a cylindrical shape with flat sides, with a diameter of 35 cm to 75 cm and a hollow trim. Its height goes from 11 cm to 16 cm and its weight from 20 kg to 70 kg. Its flavour is fruity and sweet, with a fragrant and salty aroma which becomes stronger after ripening.
The production area of Beaufort PDO covers 110 municipal areas in three big valleys of Beaufortain, Maurienne and Tarentaise, and in part of the Val d'Arly, in the eastern side of Savoie department in the Rhone-Alps region.
The origins of Beaufort PDO goes back to the huge tillage work made in the Middle Ages by the monks and villagers which gave to the region immense alpine pastures, ideal for big herds. The cheese processing in the alpine areas is due to the need to conserve it during summer. The production of cheese from Gruyere type started in the 18th century, whilst the word Beaufort was used for the first time to define cheeses in 1865. Beaufort PDO, called the Prince of Gruyeres, is the most important agro-farming production which has supported for different centuries the agriculture in the high valleys of Savoie.
Beaufort PDO must be conserved in fresh rooms, not too much humid, at temperatures spanning from 6°C to 12°C. It can be conserved in the refrigerator if sealed into a glass or plastic box and stored in the least cold compartment. Before eating it, it is suggested to leave it at room temperature for about one hour. The Beaufort PDO is an excellent cheese at the end of a meal and can be tasted during all year. Ideal also for the aperitif, in cubes, it is an ingredient of the traditional Savoyard fondue, but is also used for quiches and dishes au gratin. It is perfect combined with local, white or fruity red wines.
The product is sold as Beaufort PDO (produced in winter); Beaufort Été PDO (produced from June to October, with or without alpine milk); Beaufort Chalet d'Alpage PDO (summer products made twice a day in the alpine chalets, 1.500 m above sea level, with milk delivered by only a herd). It is marketed whole, in slices (with rind), in portions and prepacked.
The Beaufort PDO curd is wrapped into a linen cloth and put into a suitable mould, called cercle à Beaufort. And just this circle gives to the trim the hollow shape, which is characteristic of this cheese.