Morbier cheese is a cheese made from cow’s milk, with an uncooked, pressed texture, which has a disc-like shape of 11.8 to 15.7 inches of diameter, a height of 2 to 3.1 inches and a weight of 11 to 17.6 lbs. It features slightly rounded sides. Its natural, smooth rind has a color that varies between light gray and orange-beige. The cheese inside the rind bears a pale yellow color and is supple and creamy, with a light texture and a hint of cream flavor. Its aroma is frank, fruity and persistent. A black central horizontal line circling its edge distinguishes the cheese from other kinds.

The production’s zone extends through the highlands of the Jura region, which includes the departments of Doubs, Jura and Ain regions in eastern France, north of the Alps mountains.

The morbier cheese is made by traditional means, with cow milk coming from Montbéliarde or French Simmental breeds. They are fed exclusively with grass and hay. Fermented products are strictly prohibited in the raising of the cattle whose milk is used to produced morbier cheese.

Morbier goes well with light red wines, dry white wines and also with a “vin moelleux.”

A pictureqsue landscape in Jura, France

A pictureqsue landscape in Jura, France

Fabrication

The time between milking cows and beginning production of morbier cheese is limited to 24 hours. The milk is curdled after being heated to a maximum temperature of 104°F. The black central horizontal line is exclusively obtained by coating with vegetable coal on one of its faces before pressing.

Maturation of the cheese lasts for a minimal period of 45 days.

History

The name “morbier” comes from the village with the same name in France. The morbier cheese has existed since the end of the 18th century. At the end of 2000 it was recognized as AOC (Protected Designation of Origin) after 14 years with a regional label.

It was originally created by farmers from the Franche-Comté region who did not have enough milk to make a big cheese. They conceived the idea to dust the curdle with a light layer of coal soot while waiting for the next milking, so as to prevent the cheese from spoiling in mid-production. Thus, they protected and preserved the cheese. A second layer of curdle was then applied to the previous layer, leaving the black line in the middle.

800px-Morbier_(fromage)

Key figures:

Geographical area of production: 1,000,000 hectares
Number of operators: 1,026 (including 975 dairy producers, 41 transformers and 53 refiners)
Production of Morbier AOC: 7,000 tons annually .

 

 

 

Recipe idea: Potatoes au Gratin with Morbier

Ingredients:

  • 7 tbsp. of sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 12 oz. of potatoes
  • 17.5 oz. of morbier cheese
  • 0.5 quart of skim milk
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 pinches of paprika

Directions:

  • Peel the potatoes. Dip them in water. Cut them into slices.
  • Grease the gratin dish. Put down a layer of potatoes.
  • Cut 20 thin slices of morbier. Spread them over the potatoes. Cover with a second layer of potatoes, and then with thicker slices of morbier.
  • Pour in a salad dish the milk, sour cream, eggs, salt, pepper and paprika. Mix it for 30 seconds with a fork or a beater.
  • Pour the mix on top of the gratin. Place the dish in a pre-heated oven at 390 °F for one hour.