The term “Port du Salut Cheeses” is used to describe a family of cheeses which began with the cheese called “Port Salut.” It is often called “Port du Salut style.”
All are semi-firm, so they can be sliced.
Technically, if anything, the commercially-made Port du Salut style cheeses should be called Saint Paulin style, and the artisan ones produced by monasteries or small creameries called “Port du Salut”, but the two terms are used interchangeably now.
The artisan ones will still generally actually wash and cure the rind, giving the cheese a more developed taste.
Some brand names are Campénéac, Echourgnac, Nantais, Pave d’Auge, Pont l’ Évêque, Reblochon, Tamie, Timadeuc, Tomme de Savoie and Trappiste de Belval.
These are also referred to as “Trappist cheeses.”
The rind is not edible on many of these cheeses.
The Port du Salut style cheeses (or “Trappist cheeses”) originated with Cistercian monks at Notre Dame du Port-du-Salut Abbey at Port-Ringeard, Entrammes (between Laval and Angers), on the Mayenne river in the département of Mayenne in Pays de la Loire, France. See Port Salut cheese for more details on the origin.
There is one point of irony about these monks and their cheese. There are two types of Cistercian monks, Common and Strict. Earlier Cistercians did not eat things such as fish, eggs, milk or cheese. By 1664 though, most Cistercians had abandoned the earlier strictness in diet, as well as in other things. An abbot called Armand Jean de Rancé, at his Abbey of Notre Dame de la Grande Trappe, started a movement to return to all the earlier practices, such as restricted diet and strict silence. Monks who follow this stricter regime are called Trappists, after the name of that Abbey. The monks at Notre Dame du Port-du-Salut were Trappists: they would have been forbidden from eating the very cheese they made!
Cistercian monks are also called the “white monks”, from the colour of the habit they wear.