Banon is a soft, almost runny cheese that matures without a rind forming on it.
Depending on the Banon, it is made with milk from goats, goats and cows, or just cows, and sometimes any combination of the above can have sheep’s milk as well.
Curds are formed from the milk, then pressed into little wheels, salted and let mature for about a week, then wrapped in chestnut leaves that have been soaked first in brandy, then tied up with raffia to form parcels about 3 inches (8 cm) wide. The leaves prevent a rind from forming on the cheese, and the tannin on the leaves often dyes the outside of the cheese brown. If any blue mould forms under the leaves, that mould is edible.
Some types of Banon are aged for a few weeks, others are matured for a few months.
Some describe the taste as mild, but it depends on the one you get and how long it has been aged. The taste is like something between bacon and hay; generally sharp, pungent and sometimes acrid. Use Banon up right away, as it can develop an “ammonia” scent that will shoot up your nasal passages. If you don’t like goat’s cheese, Banon can taste very goaty.
The cheese originated in Provence, France. There is actually a small village called Banon where they pump out 600,000 of these cheeses each year (as of 2004.) There is an American version now (2004) being made by Capriole in Indiana.