Beaufort is a hard, rather sharp cheese made from cow's milk and is similar to gruyère. It is produced in the area around Beaufort located high in the French Alps in the Savoie region of France. It is this high altitude that imparts Beaufort with a unique flavor.
There are three varieties of Beaufort:
- Beaufort de Savoie (or summer Beaufort)
- Beaufort d’alpage (made in chalets in the Alps)
- Beaufort d'hiver (winter Beaufort)
Beaufort cheese is prepared using 11 liters of milk for every 1 kg of cheese desired. The milk used in one variety comes from the Tarentaise or Abondance cows that graze in the Alps. First, the milk is heated and then the cheese is cast into its molds, pressed, and slated. The prepared cheese must then age for 6–12 months, or even longer, in a cool mountain cellar. During this period, the cheese takes on its yellow color and acquires much of its flavor.
Beaufort cheese has a lack of holes yet is similar to Gruyère, Comté, Fribourgeois or Emmental. However, it is often considered even superior and sharp in taste. Beaufort also has a very distinct aroma reminiscent of the pastures on which graze the Tarentaise and Abondance cows, which provide the cheese's milk.
Beaufort is commonly used to make cheese fondue because it melts easily. One of the many cheeses that go well with white wine, Beaufort is often enjoyed with fish, especially salmon.