Artisanal Cheesemaking: The Comte Story

comte cheese

I love cheese, probably if I could I would eat cheese all day every day. It is always present in my fridge especially the smelly ones.

You can imagine how happy I was when Comte cheese invited me to an evening full of learning, tasting and cooking with the incredible cheese.

Comte in an ancient cooked and pressed French cheese made from raw cows' milk. It is very well known in France and therefore already knew it. I remember a friend of mine at school who was from the area and always brought some cheese after the holiday and we would "steal" some bread from the kitchen and munch on it while catching up. It isn't very easy to find it in the UK but if you do find it, try it. I'm sure you will love it.

Juras Comte

Comte is made in the Juras Massif along the Swiss border, north of Geneva. It is handmade every day by artisans and each wheel weighs about 80kg and measures 3ft in diameter. There are only two breeds of cows authorized to produce the milk for this cheese which are Montbeliarde and French Simmental. They graze in vast pastures from spring to autumn and eat local hay in winter which is why the taste of the cheese changes from season to season. Comte is characterized by its complex aromatic richness. Each wheel revels a distinct aromatic composition that varies according to the micro-region where it was produced, the local flora, the season in which the cheese was made the cellar where it matured etc. It takes time for the cheese to develop its flavour, the longer it has been maturing the stronger the taste and the harder the cheese. It needs to mature at least 4 months but it is generally left to mature between 6 to 18 months or longer.

Comte is rich in phosphorous, calcium, minerals and protein and its nutritional contents are useful in maintaining a balanced diet. Made with no additives or artificial colorants, and as it is controlled at each level of production, Comte is a healthy and natural food.

Some tips for buying and storing Comte:

  • Before buying examine the colour and texture. The colour should have a matte appearance and even tone going from ivory to straw yellow colour. The texture should be smooth and uniform.
  • If the cheese is wrapped in plastic, take it off the wrapping when you get home and wrap it in parchment. It will help it last longer.
  • Store the wrapped cheese in a covered container in the fridge.
  • If you serve it as part of a cheese plate, let it sit at room temperature for 1h before serving.
  • Why not serve different maturing levels of comte? Try 6, 10 and 18 months. You can really tell the difference in flavours and texture!

As part of the evening we created some cute little spinach and Comte souffles that will keep your guests happy and wanting the recipe! I will share the recipe next week so don't forget to come back for it!

Have you tried Comte before? What do you think? What will you cook with it? Let me know in the comments below!

Enjoy! X