If the Jura were Comté! A symbol of Jura gastronomy, Comté is one of France's favourite cheeses. Its traditional and artisanal production, its tender and delicate taste in the mouth, as well as its meticulous maturing, make it the star of cheese boards.
A journey of flavours in the mouth
Made in the Jura Mountains in eastern France, Comté is a raw cow's milk cheese with a pressed cooked paste. This great Jura cheese is appreciated for its mild, floral taste and its firm yet soft texture. The young Comtés are mild and fruity, with hints of hazelnut, while the more mature Comtés have a more intense and complex taste.
Beautiful cows and good milk
The process of making Comté cheese is quite complex and demanding. The milk used for production must come from French Montbéliarde and Simmental cows, raised in the mountain pastures of the Jura mountains. The milk must be collected daily, and it must be used raw and whole, without undergoing any heat treatment. A minimum of 400 litres of raw milk is needed to produce a wheel of cheese weighing around 40 kg.
The art of maturing, time makes all the difference
Comté cheese must be matured in a cellar for at least 4 months, in accordance with the legal requirements of the AOC. However, there are also Comté cheeses that are matured for 8 months, 12 months, 18 months or more. The maturation time varies according to the size of the cheese wheel, the storage conditions and the production season. It is during this ripening period that Comté du Jura acquires its flavour and texture. The longer the cheese is matured, the more intense its taste.
DID YOU KNOW? Comté is the first French cheese with an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC). The cheese dairies that produce the cheeses are called "fruitières". In the Jura, the cheese is matured in cellars or in more unusual places, such as natural caves, former military mountain forts or disused railway tunnels.
An ancestral method of production
The manufacturing process begins with the coagulation of the milk, which is then transformed into curd. The curd is then cut into slices, which are heated to a high temperature to expel the whey. The pieces are then pressed into round moulds, salted and placed in a maturing cellar for several months. The cheeses are regularly turned over, brushed and rubbed with brine to promote the development of the rind and the homogeneity of the cheese.
Tasting, recipes, food and wine pairing
Comté cheese can be enjoyed all year round. In early season, it can be enjoyed from October to June. The peak season for Comté is from July to September, when the grass grazed by the dairy cows is richest in nutrients.
Comté cheese is also a delicious appetizer at aperitif time when it can be eaten in small cubes or incorporated in a gougère served while still warm. In cooked dishes, it can be grated, melted or au gratin. Its subtlety makes it a welcome addition to many white meat and fish recipes, not forgetting the Comté fondue!
On the wine side, Comté goes perfectly with a dry and fruity white wine or a light red wine. But the fusion of flavors reaches new heights when this famous Jura cheese is tasted with a wine from the same region, such as an Arbois, a Savagnin or a Pupillin.
photo@ Manon25s, Pixabay