The Salers cheese: Introduction
The Salers cheese is a presses, uncooked cheese, which is exclusively farm produced. The rind is speckled and golden and can be decorated red and orange marks. The interior of the Salers cheese is yellow and firm. The Salers cheese is identified by:
- a red mark of identification (aluminium badge) which bears the initials of Salers (SA), the identification number of the producer and the date of production,
- a raised imprint on one face of the cheese which shows the name of the designation twice.
If the cattle are exclusively made up of cows of the Salers breed, the producer can put a raised imprint on the cheese stating “Tradition Salers” as well as a representation of the head of a Salers cow on the side of the cheese. The Salers cheese comes from a region of volcanic, forest covered mountains, covered in wild grass within the massif volcanic area of Cantal. The Salers cheese is the work of a farmer who lead his herd up the mountain himself and realised, with his patient and methodical methods, the complex alchemy of nature which produced a rich and flavoursome milk and a marvellous cheese.
Produced only by farms, the Salers cheese is made between the 15th April and the 15th November, where the cows are fed to satiety on the grass of the pasture. This cheese merits time and attention. It expresses of the terrain from which it is produced; rustic and subtle, and reflects the souls of the committed and brave producers who respect the rhythm of nature to transform its best offerings.
The uniquely farm produced AOC Salers cheese preserves the characteristics of the milk which made it. Made only whilst the cows are fed on fresh grass, the cheese is full of the aromas and fragrances of the local flora. The Salers cheese reveals an array of intense and diverse aromas: fruity fragrances (especially citrus), odours of the farm animals, a peppery aroma, the surprise of the aromas is striking every time. The Salers cheese has been part of a number of sensory analysis tests. The panels, which are made up of specially trained cheese tasters, have been able to establish the “wheel of aromas” of the Salers cheese.
The typical aromas of the Salers AOC cheese are dominated by an aroma of plants, (grass and hay) fruit (walnuts, hazelnuts and citrus fruits), and lactic aromas (butter, whipped cream). But it is also agreed that the aroma of farm animals (the barn, meat) that of spices and pepper and aromas of cooking (a smoked aroma, grilled onions) are also present.
Cantal or Salers? To compare the two cheese, they must be tasted when they are both at the same stage of the maturing process. Most often, the aromas of the Salers seem more complex and more numerous that those of the Cantal. The Salers cheese fully reflects the complex terrain of a unique exploitation. The Cantal cheese unites several milk producers and therefore several terrains which creates a more ‘homogenous’ bouquet.
The History of the Salers cheese
The Salers cheese is one of the oldest cheeses, where its origins go back as far as 1000 years. The market town od Salers was a medieval town situated 930 meters above altitude, in the heart of the Cantal area. This is the town which gave the Salers cheese its name. The name is also that of a breed of cow. The history of the Salers cheese and the Cantal cheese are not disassociated. The history of the ‘fourme’ of Cantal is also closely associated with the grazing of the cows on vast spaces of mountain summer pasture, as mentioned by Grégoire de Tours in the 6th Century. The cheeses were made on high ground, in the ‘burons’ or ‘masuc’ (chalets in the mountains) between May and October. The most renowned cheeses that were made were those of Salers, then those of the central massif between Murat and Aurillac.