The Comté Cheese
Comté is a Franche-Comté cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk. It is a flat, circular cheese containing about 45% of fat. With a brown, dusty rind and a yellow-pale inside, the Comté is a very mild and a bit sweet French cheese.
You will normally never buy a whole Comté cheese as they are huge discs of about 20 centimetres in diameter. Comte is always sold in slices. The Comté cheese was first produced in the 12th century in France.
This French cheese is the most produced AOC cheese in France. AOC means that the quality of the production process and the taste of the produce are outstanding, that strict hygiene rules are observed and that the gastronomic product is authentic.
In this particular case, the AOC label also ensures that only milk from Montbéliarde cows is used. The cows’ conditions of living are also controlled: a minimum space of one hectare is demanded and cows are fed natural and fresh food. Temperatures for the heating of the milk are limited too. Many other rules ensure the outstanding quality of the Comté.
To produce Comté, milk is gently warmed in copper vats, an agent is added later to make the milk coagulate. It is then heated again for half an hour and placed into a mould for the whey to be pressed out. After some hours the mould is opened and the cheese is left to mature in cellars for months.
The cheese then receives daily care by Maitres-Affineurs (ripening specialists) and remains for 4 to 18 months in a cellar. The cheeses that have undergone the longest ripening are very sought-after.
The Comte is graded: each cheese receives a mark according to its outside and inside appearance, the quality of its rind, its texture and its taste. Cheeses with lower marks do not receive the Comté name. Thus watch out for the cheeses with a bell symbol, being the best Comté cheeses that exist.