Vacherin Fribourgeois is made from cow’s milk, either raw or pasteurized. Unpasteurized versions are sold in Europe; the pasteurized versions are sold to North America.
Bacteria is added to the milk, then milk is heated to 100 F (38 C), and rennet is added. The curd is cut into large pieces, and the temperature raised to 110 F (43 C.) The whey is allowed to drain off, then the cheese is placed in moulds, lightly pressed, rinsed with salted water and set aside to mature. While the wheels are maturing, they are turned and brushed with salted water again. They are aged for a minimum of two years.
When mature, the cheese will be semi-soft, with the wheels about 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall, 14 inches (35 cm) across, and weighing about 17 pounds (7.5 kg.) The rind will be a brownish-red.
The cheese inside will be either ivory coloured or light straw-yellow, depending on the time of year it was made and on whether raw or pasteurized milk was used. It will have a fat content between 45 and 50% fat, and a mild, nutty, slightly-acidic taste.
Though somewhat like Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois has a much sharper taste, owing to its longer aging period.
By European law, the cheese is only allowed to be made in the western Swiss canton of Fribourg.
One traditional Swiss fondue mix is half gruyère, half Vacherin Fribourgeois.
Literature & Lore
“Vacherin” in French means “from a cow”.