St Marcellin cheese: An introduction
St Marcellin cheese has a history which dates back to Louis XI, governor of the Dauphiné, who would later become King Louis XV. He was attacked by a bear while out hunting and was saved by two local lumberjacks , who accompanied him and gave him some St Marcellin cheese to calm his nerves. The future king found the cheese delicious and when he returned to court he gave each of the lumberjacks a noble title, as he had promised, and spread the news of the delicious cheese he had tasted.
The name of the St Marcellin cheese comes from the name of the county town of the department of Isère where the cheese was first commercialised.
St Marcellin cheese is the shape of a small disc with a diameter of 7 to 8cm, a thickness of 2cm and a weight of between 80 and 90g.
The cheese is matured for 1 week to drain the liquid, and then left for one month in a humid cheese cellar for the fermentation to take place.
Appearance of the St Marcellin cheese: fine rind of a grey/blue to pink colour
Odour of the St Marcellin cheese: lactic to fermented
Texture of the St Marcellin cheese: soft and supple
Taste of the St Marcellin cheese: mild, slightly acidic at first.
Fabrication of St Marcellin cheese
After being collected, the milk is left at a temperature of 20 to 22°C for 2 hours to encourage the lactic ferments, then the milk is curdled before solidifying. This is then conserved for 20 or so hours in a warm room, before being put in ‘faisselles’ small recipients with lots of holes, which drain the cheeses. The fabrication of St Marcellin needs 0.7 litres of cow’s milk.
Once the whey has drained away, the cheeses are put in moulds and are turned after being reposed for 6 hours, then they are salted. They are turned for a second time after being reposed for a further 6 hours, then the other face of the cheese is salted, the cheeses are then left to repose for 12 hours or so in their ‘faisslles.’ The cheeses are then removed from the moulds and placed in a hot room so that the mould develops over 24 hours. Then they are put in a drying room at 16°C.
After 24 hours, the St Marcellin is a runny consistency, after 48 hours, it is firmer. The cheeses are then put in a ‘hâloir’ (the cheese cellar where the cheeses are matured). The cheeses begin to develop their ‘blue’ after a week, and change to a yellowy colour after 3 weeks, when the cheeses have a more bloomy rind and are matured throughout with a creamy centre. The cheeses can then be packaged and commercialised.