A Little History

Since the 17th century, Saint-Nectaire has been uniquely associated with the Auvergne region. It was introduced to the court of Louis XIV by Henri de Sennectère, Marshal of France, who gave it its famous name. In less than a century, this cheese found its way to the tables of French nobility. By the 18th century, Saint-Nectaire was more than just a popular cheese in the Auvergne région; it was celebrated throughout France, especially by aristocrats of the time.

Saint_Nectaire_avant_affinage

It became an AOC in 1955 and each year 13,369 tons are produced. Sixty-nine municipalities produce PDO Saint-Nectaire. The majority are located in the mountain areas.

A Little Geography

Its Protected Designation of Origin zone is one of the smallest in France. Nothing could be more natural. This pressed uncooked cheese embodies the essence of the Puy-de-Dôme and the Cantal prairieland that surround its terroir.

PDO milk used for the production comes from the “Monts Dore”, between 0.47 and 0.75 miles (750 and 1200 meters). Its conversion into cheese also occurs in the same area.

Le Mont Dore

How Is It Made?

Saint-Nectaire cheese has a circular shape, around 8.27 inches (21 cm) in diameter and 1.97 inches (5 cm) in height, and weighs around 3.75 pounds (1.7 kg).

Two kinds of Saint-Nectaire cheese can be made.

  • The farm-made variety is made twice a day from unprocessed whole milk. Pressed into a mold and wrapped in a linen cloth, the curd is branded with an oval casein stamp which identifies the producer. The cheese will then be aged at the farm or sold to an “affineur” (cheese ripener).
  • Made from either pasteurized or unprocessed milk, Saint-Nectaire can be easily distinguished by its square green casein stamp.

In all cases, the aging time for a round of Saint-Nectaire cheese varies from three to six weeks, sometimes longer. As it ripens, the cheese develops a rind that bears a taste with floral notes.

Around 3.96 gallons (15 litres) of milk are required to make one cheese, and the final product is at least 45% fat.

Saint-Nectaire is produced and matured in the heart of the Massif Central from the Puy de Dôme and Cantal regions, where the humidity level is the highest in the {départment}.

affinage

The finished product has a grey-brown rind, with white, yellow or red patches that surround a semi-hard “pâte” that is creamy in appearance with the occasional residual perforation. This dense cheese has a silky texture with a light acidity. Its taste is similar to that of Reblochon (PDO), with hints of hazelnut and mushrooms, due to the aromatic flora from the cheese’s aging.

This cheese is made with cow’s milk, mainly of Holstein and Montbéliarde and sometimes Salers. The unprocessed milk must be produced by a single herd.

Recipe Idea: Salmon with Saint-Nectaire

For 4 people:

  • 4 salmon steaks
  • 100 g of Saint-Nectaire
  • 50 g of white wine
  • 1 shallot
  • Whipping cream
  • Garlic

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 392°F (200 °C ) (grill position).
  • Slice the shallots, chop the garlic, and sprinkle in the bottom of a baking sheet.
  • Roast salmon steaks quickly over high heat, and set aside in the plate.
  • Mix egg and Saint-Nectaire in a mixing bowl.
  • Cover salmon steaks with this mixture and bake for 20 minutes.
  • 5 minutes before the end, remove the pan juices into a saucepan, add the fish stock and cream and let it reduce.
  • Consider adding a pinch of anise to your sauce.