The Comté PDO is a cheese belonging to the Gruyere family, with cooked and pressed paste. It is produced with raw, semi-skimmed milk from cows of French Montbéliarde and Simmental breeds.
The cows are nurtured above all with fresh grass in the pastures during summer and hay in winter. The whole milk is raw treated with the addition of rennet. The curd obtained is heated and maintained at a temperature of 53°C for at least 30 minutes; then, it is pressed and dry salted or brined. The cheese ripens exclusively on spruce wood boards in cold cellars (less than 14°C) or in warm cellars (14 to 19°C) depending on the type of ripening chosen. The ripening period is of minimum four months and can be prolonged until 18, and even 24 months. During ripening, the cheese is regularly turned and brushed.
Appearance and Flavour
Comté PDO has a cylindrical shape with a variable weight from 30 kg to 48 kg and a diameter from 50 cm to 75 cm. The paste is velvety and creamy, ivory colour tending to yellow, and can have some small holes distributed in a regular manner. The rind has a garnet red surface or gold yellow tending to brown, depending on ripening. The taste of this cheese can slightly change depending on seasons, the level of ripening and the farmer who produces it, as every cheese has unique and peculiar aroma. The flavour spans from the fruity scent of summer Comté to the walnut taste of winter Comté.
The production area of Comté PDO covers the Massif du Jura and includes the departments of Doubs, Jura and Ain and a part of the Saône-et-Loire and Haute-Savoie, in the regions Franche-Comte, Rhone-Alps and Burgundy.
The history of Comté PDO belongs to the millenary tradition of the production of great cheeses in the Franche-Comte. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the fructeries produced famous cheeses. In these mountainous areas, these great cheeses were one of the main methods to conserve the food during the long cold winter, and the snow-covered periods.
Comté PDO must be conserved in the refrigerator in its original package or sealed into a box. The cheese must remain at room temperature for one hour before tasting. Comté PDO can be tasted with bread, accompanied by citrus or soft fruit compotes. It is also used to season and enrich flans and cheese dishes; it is very good cooked au gratin wrapped into breadcrumbs and, as it melts very well, it is suitable for a lot of recipes. As regards wine, the Comté PDO is ideal with light red wines and dry white wines, including sparkling wines, or even better with a yellow wine and walnuts.
The product is sold as Comté PDO. It is marketed fresh and with different levels of ripening, whole, in slices, in portions or grated.
Every Comté PDO cheese reveals a different aromatic composition depending on the microregion, the season, the specific hand of the cheese maker and on the cellar where it was put for ripening