Friday, June 24, 2011

Comte Forts and Morbier Cheeses-Jura Day 2 (June 24th, 2011)

After a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we were off at 7:30AM to go see cheesemaking at an artisanal Morbier/Comte cheesemaking facility. This was higher up in the mountains of Jura region. The cheesemaking was handled by a principal cheesemaker and his apprentice. The milk was first heated and the starter cultures of LAB (lactic acid bacteria) were added in. After 4 hours, the rennet enzymes were added in to coagulate the milk. The milk curd was then separated from the whey by cutting and draining and pressing. We stood behind a sheet of glass and watched the two cheesemakers. After the curds were separated, they were placed in cheese molds and left to age. For the morbier cheese, the curds were placed onto top of each other, with a layer of vegetable "ash" in between. Traditionally, farmers made Morbier out of leftover curds of Comte cheese, and put ash in between to better preserve the cheese.
After the cheesemaking excursion, we had a picnic in the Mountains of Jura (next to the Fort des Rousses). As usual, it was delicious and full of cheese, meats, wine, breads, and chocolates! After and in between the picnic, we hiked up the mountainside with Dr. Max along the Fort. The Fort was built by the Swiss border in the old days as a defense on the eastern side of France. This fort now holds government offices and COMTE! It serves as an aging cave for 75,000 comte cheeses! The caves are maintained by a robot that washes each cheese with brine and flips it over while aging. We walked through the comte caves and watched a documentary about the fort and the cheese. The caves had an aroma of ammonia which required getting some used to because of all the amino acids that were degrading in the comte cheese (as they degrade over time). On the other hand, I learned to appreciate the art of aging the cheese since you absolutely need the space, time, and mechanics to age the cheese well.

The Morbier Making

Cheesemolds for the curds

The actual cheese! Yummmmmm (the one on top with the black line in the middle is Morbier)


Morbier Cheese in town circle

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