The Abondance PDO is a semi-cooked, pressed spread cheese of raw and whole milk obtained from Tarentaise, Montbéliarde and Abondance breed cows coming from farming areas located in the high valleys of the Savoy region.
The production area of Abondance PDO is located in the high valleys of the department of Haute-Savoie in the Rhone-Alps region and includes 176 municipal areas.
The cows used to produce the milk are nurtured above all with grass cropped in summer and local hay in winter. The use of fermented fodder is forbidden. Many producers bring their cows to alpine pastures in summer. The raw and whole milk is poured out into a copper cauldron. Thanks to the action of rennet, the curd is made. Then this last is broken and heated. The producer breaks up the curd by hand with the help of a curd-cutter. Later, by means of a linen cloth, he eliminates the curd lumps leaving only the whey. The cheese is put into moulds which give it a characteristic hollow shape. After salting, the cheese is stored in fresh and humid cellars to ripen on deal boards for at least 100 days.
Appearance and Flavour
Abondance PDO has a diameter of about 40 cm, a hollow trim and a weight spanning from 6 kg to 12 kg. The rind is amber in colour; the paste is soft and fondant, whilst the taste is fruity with a slightly bitter note. The Abondance PDO cheeses are the only, together with the Beaufort ones, to have a characteristic hollow trim. The rind has an amber colour and the paste has a pale ivory-yellow tone; it can have some small holes, regularly and uniformly distributed.
The origins of Abondance PDO go back to the 12th century, when the monks understood that the cheese could become the richness of an area lost in mountains, the Abondance valley. A hard tillage work of the ground enabled to build fields and green pastures suitable for the development of agriculture. With patience and talent, the monks started to elaborate the secrets of the production of this cheese. In 1381, at the meeting of the conclave in Avignon to elect the Pope, the Abondance cheese achieved high success. Later, it became an appreciated second course at the Court of Savoy.
The Abondance PDO can be conserved in the refrigerator, sealed into a box and stored in the least cold compartment. Before eating it, it is suggested to leave it at room temperature for about one hour, to enable it to reacquire its full aroma and flavour. Abondance PDO can be tasted at the end of a meal, as a snack, in cubes into a salad or melted to prepare a Berthoud (the cheese is cut into thin slices with pepper and garlic and sprinkled with Savoy white wine, then roasted in oven), a local recipe of Chablais savoyard. A dry white wine of Savoy is ideal to accompany this cheese.
The product is sold as Abondance PDO. It is marketed whole or in portions of different weights.
The peculiar features of Abondance PDO cheese are due to the process which follows salting during the 100 days of refinement in cellar. Here constant and meticulous procedures - the cheeses are constantly brushed and upturned - enable to develop all the specific characteristics of this ancient product of Haute-Savoie.