Cantal Cheese is a cheese made in the Cantal region in the south of Auvergne, France.
It is a semi-firm cheese, but hard by French norms.
Cantal Cheese is made from cow’s milk from up to three different breeds of cattle, one of which is Salers cattle. There are both pasteurized milk and raw milk versions. The version called “Cantal Laitier” is made from pasteurized milk; Cantal Fermier, a farmhouse version, is made from raw milk.
The milk is heated to 32 C (90 F), and has rennet added. The curd is cut, put in a bag, pressed to make a slab, then the slab is cut, pressed again, allowed to rest, then crumbled, salted, put in moulds lined with cloth, and pressed a final time, and sent for aging.
By AOC regulations, Cantal Cheese undergoes a minimum 30 days aging, but it can be aged up to six months. As it ages, the greyish-brown-coloured rind will develop orangey-red mould, and inside the colour changes from ivory to buttery-yellow.
Young Cantal is called “jeune”; six months or more is called “vieux”, and in between is called “entre deux.” When young, it is moist, rubbery, mild and sweet, somewhat like Lancashire cheese. When old, it will be drier and sharper. Old Cantal can be grated.
Cantal is made by several producers in three sizes: a wheel of 10 kg (22 pounds), a cylinder of 20 kg (44 pounds), and a cylinder of 40 kg (88 pounds.) The 40 kg cylinder is 40 cm across.
Trim and discard the rind of Cantal cheese.
Cantal cheese has a 45% fat content.
A salmonella outbreak in the summer of 2001 in France was linked to young Cantal cheese that had been made from raw milk.
Cantal was being made in the 1600s. Some people like to date it, with a flourish, back to the Romans.
Cantal got its AOC in 1980.
Cantal Cheese is named after the Cantal range of mountains.
It is sometimes referred to as “French cheddar”, but it is nothing like cheddar, though some people find the taste somewhat reminiscent.