Pays de Herve

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Fromage de Herve

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A single cheese in its kind

The distinctive characteristic of Herve cheese is based on its method of production, the climate and the nature of the pastures, but above all on the presence of a single strain of bacteria (Bacterium linens).

Herve cheese has "nose", character and personality. Some enjoy it ripe and mature. Others prefer it milder. It's a question of taste. In most cases, it is cubic in shape (the characteristic "Herve" comes in the shape of a 6x6 cm ‘pavé' or block). It is a soft cheese with a washed rind, obtained from unpasteurised (Remoudou) or pasteurised milk. Its texture is consistent, firm, smooth and creamy and it has a 45% minimum fat content. Its inimitable flavour has put it into the big league and makes it a welcome addition to the finest cheeseboards. 


Its background 

The present lush pasturelands originally used to be dense forests.  The land was converted into meadows towards the middle of the 16th century.  The local people used the pastureland for raising cattle. During a period when the means of communication were few and far between or tediously slow, what was needed was a dairy product with very good keeping qualities. Cheese fitted the bill perfectly. As cheese takes a fairly long time to ripen, it was possible to transport it on long distances, to customers living in regions that could sometimes be a very long way away.

Prior to 1930, nearly all the farmers from the Herve Land made the cheese on their holdings. Nowadays, cheese producers in Herve have become what can only be called craftspeople, as the preparatory process calls for a great deal of family labour, cleanliness and hygiene.

 

Its manufacture 

Once the cows have been milked, the jugs of milk are gathered together in a warm place and poured into a vat with slanting sides where the milk is curdled.

One and a half hours after having added the rennet which provokes the curdling, the curds are cut into four pieces. Fifteen minutes later, the coagulated curdled milk is cut into small pieces the size of a hazel nut.

When the curds are sufficiently coagulated, they are poured between wooden planks to shape the cheese. The strips of curds thus formed are pressed lightly and turned over after a few hours. They are turned 4 or 5 times per day for two days and finally cut into curd cubes which are reshaped between the planks.

During the ripening period, each cheese is washed individually two or three times a week with slightly salty water so a slightly rosy rind is formed : the smear.

Various qualities are obtained, depending on the various washing procedures and ripening times: mild, semi-mild, sharp…  All that remains now is to pack the cheeses and send them to the distribution channels.

Herve cheese is eaten simply with bread and butter or covered with apple and pear syrup (another regional speciality) and accompanied with a nice cup of coffee.

 

Its P.D.O

Throughout Europe there is a wealth of great food products. When they gain a reputation that extends beyond our borders, such as our dairy products for example, they can be faced with competition from imitations on the market that encroach on their name. This unfair competition misleads consumers and penalises producers.  For this reason, in 1992 the European Community created a system to protect and promote food products. The Appellation d'Origine Protegée (AOP) or Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is part of that system..

"The Protected Designation of Origin covers the term used to describe foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how."

Herve cheese was awarded the PDO in 1996. 

 

Its producers and its association

The association “Fromage de Herve” consists of small-scale traditional skilled cheese-makers and firms driven by the same passion: making and distributing high-quality traditional products, honouring the production secrets of the past. Although production demands meet the strictest standards (carefully controlled raw materials, ultra-modern equipment, safety, hygiene, transport, etc.), the original flavour remains the same. 

The "Espace des Saveurs et Découvertes"

At the main tourist office you can meet Jean de Herve …. This nobleman with his warm voice will help you to discover his land and its richness in architecture, gastronomy ….

Its gastronomic brotherhoods

Two brotherhoods have for mission the defense of the Herve cheese interests : the Brotherhood of the Herve cheese and the Seigneury of Remoudou.

Category
  • Produits laitiers

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