Crottin de Chavignol Cheese is made around Sancerre and Berry in the Loire, France by both dairies and some independent farms (around 140 producers in total as of 2004.) Chavignol itself is a town of just 200 souls (2006 numbers) near the village of Sancerre.
The cheese is shaped like a squat cylinder, about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) tall, and 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide.
It is made from unpasteurized goat’s milk, (though the milk is pasteurized for an export version.) In winter, it is made from frozen goat’s milk curd.
To make Crottin de Chavignol Cheese first starter culture is added to the milk, then rennet. The milk is allowed to curdle for 24 to 48 hours, then the curd is drained through a cloth and ladled into moulds with small holes to allow further drainage. The cheeses are then taken out of the moulds, salted, and aged for 10 days at a temperature between 55 and 60 F (13 to 16 C.)
It can be then be eaten at any stage from fresh to very mature. When fresh, Crottin de Chavignol Cheese is off-white and creamy inside, with no rind, and a mild goaty taste. As it starts to ripen, it develops a beige rind with white mould on it, and the inside darkens from pure white to ivory.
At 6 weeks, Crottin de Chavignol Cheese is dry and brittle inside, with a strong taste and smell. The rind is hard, with a stronger taste than the inside, and with blue mould having replaced the white mould. At 4 months, it can be too hard and strong for most people.
Each Crottin de Chavignol Cheese starts off weighing about 5 oz (140 g) fresh. Around 6 weeks, it will weigh 2 to 3 ounces (55 to 85 g.) When 4 months old, it will weigh about 2 ounces (60 g.)
Crottin de Chavignol Cheese is usually sold on to cheese agers for aging.
Producers claim production of Crottin de Chavignol Cheese goes back to the 1500s, though the cheese is first mentioned in print in 1829. The cheese achieved its AOC status in 1976.
Pronounced “croh-tahn de sha-vee-nyol.”
“Crottin” in French means “turd” or “dropping” (sic).