Reblochon

Reblochon is a French cheese from the Alps region of Haute-Savoie and has been granted the AOC title. Reblochon was first produced in the Thônes and Arly valleys, in the Aravis massif. Thônes remains the centre of Reblochon production; the cheeses are still made in the local cooperatives. Until 1964 Reblochon was also produced in Italian areas of the Alps. Subsequently the Italian cheese has been sold in declining quantities under such names as Rebruchon and Reblò alpino.

Reblochon derives from the word 'reblocher' which when literally translated means 'to pinch a cow's udder again'. Although graphic, this refers to the practice of holding back some of the milk from the first milking. During the 14th century, the landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. The farmers would therefore not fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer, and was traditionally used by the dairymaids to make their own cheese. The Chartreux monks would bless the houses of the mountain peasants in return for these "cheeses of devotion". Raw-milk Reblochon is no longer available in the United States due to recent enforcement of laws concerning the pasteurization of soft and semi-soft cheese.

Reblochon is a soft washed-rind cheese made from raw cow's milk. The cow breeds best for producing the milk needed for this cheese are the Abondance, Tarentaise and the Montbéliarde. Produced from the day's second milking, this cheese measures 14 cm across and 3–4 cm thick, has a soft centre with a washed rind and weighs an average of 450g. As proof of its being well-aged in an airy cellar, the rind of this cheese is covered with a fine white mould. The optimal period to savour this cheese is between May and September after it has been aged six to eight weeks. It is also excellent from March to December.

Reblochon has a nutty taste that remains in mouth after its soft and uniform centre has been enjoyed. It is an essential ingredient of tartiflette, a Savoyard gratin made from potatoes, cream, onions, and ham. In 2002, 17.4 million kilograms of Reblochon were produced.

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