The Pays de la Loire Port Salut is a semi-soft cheese originated in the former Maine province. This smooth and delicate French cheese has been made according to authentic techniques, with pasteurized cow's milk, since monks started its production in the middle of the 19th century. Originally named Port du Salut, this gourmet French speciality accounts for the renowned dairy products of the Northwestern regions of France amongs which Upper Normandy and Lower Normandy and of course, Pays de la Loire.
As the other food and gastronomy products of the Western regions of France, the Port Salut from Pays de la Loire is made respecting traditional techniques of production. This delectable soft cheese originates from the Trappist monks of the Notre Dame de Port du Salut Abbey. This Maine's speciality was first strictly made for the monks' consumption and was known under the name "Port-du-Salut".
After the improvement of the abbey's equipment with special cellars for maturing, Port Salut's cheese production rapidly increased. The disc-shaped cheese was a great success in the area of the Pays de la Loire towns, Laval and Entrammes.
However, it was only in 1873 that, during a visit to Paris of the monks, the authentic cheese was introduced - and highly appreciated! - into the Parisian markets.
The success of this delicate Pays de la Loire cheese finally inclined the monks to register "Port du Salut" as a trademark in 1874 to protect their original recipe. Since then, imitations of the semi-soft cheese widely known as "Port Salut" have received the name of Saint Paulin.
Provided the rapid development of Port Salut's production, the Notre Dame du Port-du-Salut monks sold the name, recipe and rights for Port Salut cheese to "Société Anonyme des Fermiers Réunis" (SAFR) - Farmers Public Company - in 1959. That is why, since then, the Pays de la Loire cheese has been widely known as "SAFR Port Salut".
Both Port Salut and Saint Paulin have a mild, savoury flavour and a dense, pale yellow interior. That may explain why these semi-soft cheeses are often compared to the Danish Esrom.
But the typical French Port Salut has his own distinguishing feature: its edible, bright orange rind. During its original production, the cheese was regularly washed with brine, this is responsible for the orange colour and the traces on its rind. But this is no longer done since the cheese is directly wrapped in a plastic cloth.
This moist cheese is a really common sight in France, popular for snacking, in a delicious crisp baguette. Port Salut has also its place on restaurants' cheese platters, accompanied with fruits, rye bread and Burgundy light red wines or dry white wines like Chardonnay.