Fontal is a semi-firm cheese made commercially in factories from pasteurized cow’s milk.
It is made in flat cylinders, with concave sides, and a thin rind that may be covered with brownish-red wax, or plastic.
Inside the Fontal Cheese is a pale straw colour, and supple but dense, with some small holes. It has a mild, nutty flavour, that is almost sweet with a touch of tartness.
The flavour varies depending on where the Fontal Cheese is made. Some versions are tangier than others. The tang in the taste comes out particularly when the cheese is melted.
The milk can come from anywhere. Lactic cultures are added to develop flavour. Rennet is added, and the milk is held at a temperature from 86 to 95 F (30 to 35 C) for 25 to 35 minutes while it curdles. Then, the whey is drained off, and the curd is heated to 100 to 104 F (38 to 40 C) by adding hot water to it.
The curd is then pressed, salted, and put into moulds which are then submerged in brine for a while.
The cheeses are aged 40 to 60 days. As they age, the rind browns.
It was first made in France, but is now also made in Italy in the Trentino region. Fontal Cheese is usually made in sizes of 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) wide, 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm) tall, weighing 17 to 26 pounds (8 to 12 kg.) In Italy, it is known as Fontinella, Fontella, and Fontal.
Fontal Cheese is also made in Belgium by the Kempico Company.
Fontal was first created as a French knock-off of the Italian cheese “Fontina.” The French called it Fontina, but in 1951 they were forced by law to come up with another name. The name Fontal has been used since 1955.