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Governed by some extremely strict manufacturing regulations, Salers is the only exclusively raw milk cheese with its own Appellation d’Origine Protégée. Together with the richness of its aromas, the traditional methods used to produce it make it both a precious and authentic commodity.
At first sight, there is nothing to distinguish Salers from Cantal or from its very close cousin, Laguiole. Nothing, and yet so many things. Familiar since Gallo-Roman times, Salers, which gets its name from the village of the same name, is the only AOP cheese (AOC status awarded in 1961) produced exclusively using raw and seasonal milk uniquely produced using the same historic methods and expert knowledge.
The manufacturing process is a lengthy and delicate one. It requires a really deft touch and according to a strict ritual, in which the cheesemaker’s instinct and the precision of his movements are still of the utmost importance. “You never see a master cheesemaker watching the clock”. This is what they tend to say in the volcanic regions of Cantal, Le Cézallier and the Dore mountains, where Salers manufacture is only permitted from 15th April to 15th November, in line with the terms of some very strict specifications.
The consequence of this is that the cows only eat the fresh grass of Auvergne; whole and raw, their milk is richer and more highly-perfumed. After milking, which is done twice a day, the milk is put into the famousgerle. This is a wooden container that is vital for developing specific aromas, before the actual manufacture takes place, which happens over a period of three days.
Cellared for a minimum of three months, Fourme de Salers (weighing 40 kg) is characterised by its thick, golden crust, with a scattering of red and orange blooms, and by its ivory-coloured inside; it develops plant, fruit and lactic hints, a range of flavours that the ageing time widens still further (up to two years) – the older the cheese, the more character it develops. This process is a combination of skill and patience, something cheese makers of Salers and Auvergne have acquired over hundreds of years.
Real gourmets eat Salers with a handful of red fruit or a spoonful of jam, and with a wine that is light enough to allow its aromas to develop – such as a Côte d’Auvergne, a red Sancerre or a Saumur-Champigny etc. As there are fewer than 100 producers continuing the manufacturing tradition in France, the scarceness of Salers, at 1,100 tons per year is no surprise, with the same applying to its price.
The Maison de la Salers is a site dedicated to the Salers cow pedigree and its products. Learn more about the cheese and stop in the shop with products from more than 17 producers (snails, cheese, beer...).
Take a visit of the Cave de Salers, see the aging process first hand, and of course taste the final product!