Two days ago I visited the Cooperative Laitiere Du Beaufortain situated in a French town called Beaufort, which is where they make the famous cheese of the same name.
Now I am a massive cheese fan (French cheeses in particular) so this was heaven for me, but what I enjoyed the most was learning about how they take the raw milk and turn it into a beautiful product. The technique dates back hundreds of years and we got to see first hand the people and the processes behind this magnificent creation.
The milk is collected from 150 farms in the Beautfortain region and depending on if the milk was collected in the summer or the winter will have an enormous effect on taste. As the winter months are too cold for the cows to be out on the mountain pastures, they are kept in large barns and eat mostly hay (dried grass from the previous season) whereas in the summer months, the fields aren’t covered with snow so they are free to roam the countryside and eat the fresh green grass.
The milk is heated to 33°C in 30 mins and lactic yeasts, bacteria and whey from the previous batch (which contains so much good bacteria) are added. It’s stirred in massive drums and when the curd has formed on the top, it is extracted and used to make the cheese by wrapping it, securing it in a wooden ring and cloth and pressing it (the pressure is about 1000kg).
It is later dunked in a salt water solution and then racked for approximately 7 months. During this time, each wheel of cheese is bathed and scrubbed with a salt water solution and flipped every two days. This is a massive task considering each wheel weighs 40kg!
The racking areas are set to 9°C and smell of “stinky cheese”. This is due to the ammonia released in the fermentation process.
I am a massive fan of all foods which contain good bacteria. When we eat them they replenish our gut’s good bacteria which is easily destroyed by things like antibiotics, alcohol, the pill, stress and most of all processed and low nutrient foods. This cheese is made using “lait cru” which is French for raw milk so it’s unpasteurised and super good for you.
At the end of the tour we got to taste Beaufort as well as some of the wine produced in the region. What a great way to end a tour…cheese and wine. Gee the French know how to do it.