Reblochon cheese is a high-quality cheese of the French terroir. Its Designated zone of Origin covers about 184 villages in the ”départements” of Savoie and Haute-Savoie and its name derives from the patois term “reblocher” which means to milk the cow a second time.
With a reddish-orange-washed rind, and thin layer of mold, Reblochon is one of France’s great mountain cheeses. An ivory colored, semi-hard cheese with a creamy body, Reblochon can be quite robust, especially when well aged. Its taste is velvety and smooth with a hint of nuttiness that delights the palate.
The name Reblochon derives from the patois term “reblocher” which means to milk the cow a second time. Why?
In the 13th century, tenant farmers of Thônes in the region of Haute Savoie were taxed according to the amount of milk their herds produced. As a consequence when the inspector came to the farm, the farmers would not fully milk their cows until the yield was measured. After he left, they milked the cows a second time and used this milk to prepare a cheese which became known as “Reblochon.”
By the 18th century, the Reblochon production was no longer practiced in secret and by the 19th century it began to flourish commercially. To preserve the name and quality of their cheese, Reblochon cheesemakers took steps to protect themselves against imitators. In 1953, they were able to obtain a statutory description of their cheese.
Today, the Reblochon Designated Zone of Origin covers about 184 villages in the provinces of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. The zone includes the pasture and alpine meadows of the Aravis Mountains, the Pays Ronchois and Val d’Abondance where the Abondance, Montbeliarde and Tarine cattle breeds graze on natural grass. Their milk is influenced by the region’s soil, the grass and flowers the cows eat and water content.
Made from whole or raw milk, Reblochon is a pressed, semi-hard cheese which captures the quality of the Savoie pastureland. Made in the traditional way, the cheese curds are formed and pressed by hand in molds which are wrapped with a lined cloth. A weight is placed on top of the molds so that the whey is completely drained, thus, the curds may be removed from their molds for salting.
The cheese is then dried on spruce planks and remains in the cellar for two weeks. When it arrives at the “affinage” stage (cheese-matured) it is rubbed again and turned over regularly until it reaches appropriate ageing.
Reblochon Laitier, produced in farmers’ cooperatives or in cheese factories, is identified by a red casein medallion which is incorporated into its rind, whereas the farm-made Reblochon is identified by a green medallion which specifies the specific production processes, meaning the cheese must be made after the morning and evening milkings, with raw milk .
Whether sold in a 250g half wheel or 500g whole wheel, each Reblochon is packaged with a silver of spruce which allows the cheese to continue to ripen until it is opened.
Reblochon may be enjoyed in tartiflette, a regional dish from Haute Savoie made with potatoes, onions, and sour cream.
- large potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 7 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons “crême fraîche” (sour cream can also be used)
- 1 (8 ounce) round Reblochon cheese
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.
2. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
3. Stir-fry bacon in a skillet over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Remove bacon; pour off bacon fat. In the same skillet add onions, and cook and stir until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan, and simmer. Remove from heat.
4. Place 1/2 of the potatoes into the prepared dish; then spread 1/2 of the bacon mixture over the potatoes. Layer in the remaining potatoes, then spread the crême fraîche over them. Add the remaining half of the bacon mixture. Cut the rind from the Reblochon, cut it into thin slices, and layer the slices evenly over the top of the casserole.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted and a bit brown, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.