Morbier cheese (full name Morbier du Livradois) is a mild-tasting cheese with a thin layer of white pine ash in the middle of it.
The cheese has a golden-brown rind. Inside, it is pale yellow, and semi-firm yet creamy and supple, with some very small holes.
Other cheeses that use ash: Humboldt Fog Cheese, Le Cendrillon Cheese, Pavé Blésois Cheese, Pecorino Ginepro Cheese
Morbier cheese is made using raw milk from cows.
Traditionally, it was made from leftover curd that wasn’t wanted for other cheeses or uses. The curd was put into a mould, then ash put over it to stop it from drying out and forming a rind until the next day, when there would be more leftover curd, enough to finish filling up the mould.
Today, curd is made especially for the cheese, first by heating the milk then curdling it. Small producers will make the bottom layer from the evening’s milk, then the top layer from the next morning’s milk.
The cheese is then salted and pressed.
By law, the cheese has to be aged a minimum of 45 days. Many, though, age it for two months. After this initial aging, it is then washed with brine, then aged another two months.
The crust becomes golden brown as it ages, and the flavour gets more complex.
Morbier cheese is made in 5 to 8 kg (11 to 18 pound) wheels in the Savoie region of France.
Morbier cheese melts well.
Morbier was originally made in Morez, in the Jura mountains near the Swiss border from curd leftover from making Comté cheese, or when they didn’t have enough milk to make cheese the size of a Comté wheel. The practice dates back to at least the late 1700s.
It is uncertain how makers hit upon the idea of using ash.
Morbier Cheese received its French AOC in 2001, and its European PDO status in 2002.
“Morbier” means “small market town” in French.