Bleu de Termignon: An Introduction
The Bleu de Termignon is a soft, cow’s milk cheese with mould on the interior. It is artisan made on site in Modane. Termignon is a commune near Mont-Cenis, on the side of Savoy pass which separates France from Italy. This cheese is also called Bleu du Mont-Cenis or Bleu de Bessans. It is cylindrical shaped with a diameter of 30 to 35cm, a height of 15 to 20cm and a weight of 8 to 10kg.
The history of this cheese goes back to the 18th Century, when the first blue-veined cheeses of Savoy appeared.
The fabrication of the Bleu de Termignon is secret; the life of this cheese has never been assured and has only survived thanks to lovers of blue veined cheeses. In 1816, an Italian exported the cheese from the other side of the border, in the valley of Suse, where it saw some success, then in 1933, a few French gastronomes learned about the existence of the cheese. But the Bleu de Termignon has not become more than a local cheese, consumed by the people of its area of origin. Therefore the production of the cheese is carried out by 4 producers on the summer mountain pastures of Termignon at an altitude of 2000m.
Appearance of the Bleu de Termignon cheese: grey rind without cracks. Pate is open, smooth and blue
Odour of the Bleu de Termignon cheese: no odour in particular
Texture of the Bleu de Termignon cheese: hard
Tatse of the Bleu de Termignon cheese: pronounced flavour, almost bitter.
Fabrication of the Bleu de Termignon
The raw milk comes from cows from the Abondance and Tarine breeds who graze on the mountain pasture of the Parc de la Vanoise. The vegetation of this region is imprinted in the flavours of the milk. Two curds are used to produce the blue veins; the curds from the milk collected that day and the curds from two days before. This mixture is conserved in a wooden bucket, then salted and mixed and finally pressed by hand in tradition linen cloth moulds.
After being drained, the cheeses are then placed in a room with a mild temperature fro two weeks before being put in a cheese cellar. It should be noted that there is no bacteria added to the cheese to create the mould, the mould develops naturally. Several months are needed for the cheeses to mature, before being sold at the end of summer.