Cheese Calendar

Respecting The Seasons

Many cheeses are seasonal and should be eaten in season to discover and enjoy them at their best. Winter is synonymous with bad weather and empty pastures.

There is no fresh grass and animals are fed, at best, with hay or, at worst with silage. Consequently their milk is less rich and lacks character - not the perfect start for producing great cheese!

In Spring and Summer, the warming sun brings fresh grass to the pastures benefiting milk with new aromas that will enrich the cheese made from it.

The cheese lover would therefore be advised towards selecting cheeses made in the Spring, Summer and early Autumn. The one exception is Vacherin-Mont d'Or which is traditionally made in the autumn-winter and its unique recipe gives it a superb quality for this time of year. Taking into account the time that each cheese needs to reach optimum maturity, one discovers a cheese calendar of immense variety.

Spring heralds a superb cheese season which will reach its peak by the summer. Young, citreous flavoured goat cheeses become available just a few weeks after the animals start to produce their milk. By summer soft cow's milk cheeses such as Camembert are reaching their peak. Autumn brings a revival in the pastures where the second growth wells out of the parched dry summer soil. This is how veined cheeses retain their summers flavours, the goat cheeses regain their strength and the soft cheeses fade away for another year. Winter months rely on the hard cheeses made months earlier during the grazing season.

The table below provides a reference for enjoying cheese in season.

 

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

 Coated Rinds

Camembert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coulommiers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brie de Meaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brie de Melun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brillat Savarin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaource

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neufchatel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Marcellin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Washed Rinds

Maroilles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pont l'Eveque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Livarot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rollot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boulette d'Avesnes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epoisses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Langres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Munster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vacherin Mont d'or

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Veined

Bleu de Gex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bleu de Causses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourme d'Ambert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bleu d'Auvergne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roquefort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Goat

Sainte-Maure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picodon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocamadour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chabichou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pouligny-saint Pierre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valencay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pelardon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selles-sur-Cher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cabra corsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hard Uncooked

Cantal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laguiole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint-Nectaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ossau-Iraty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reblochon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morbier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomme deSavoie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Hard Cooked

Emmental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaufort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abondance

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese and Its Seasons

During certain times of the year, certain cheeses are at their peak of perfection, while others are less tasty. For example, it's best to avoid Vacherin in summer or goat cheese in winter.

The fine-weather seasons

The best seasons are indisputably spring, summer, and autumn. The flavour of milk depends heavily on what the animals producing it have been eating, and thus on the quality of the grazing. The milk from a cow fed on winter hay will not have the same flavour as the milk from a cow grazing in an open field in the spring. Grazing on abundant grass with a sprinkling of gentian violets or buttercups, the cow will yield a much richer, more fragrant milk. Cheeses made from this milk and ripened for about four weeks will have a more pronounced and more delicious taste than winter cheeses.

There is, however, one exception to this rule: for cooked and uncooked pressed cheeses, it's not so much the season that matters, but the curd ripening time. Beaufort de Montagne and Comté made in the summer are by far the best at the end of the winter - of the following year!

In winter, from January to March

This is the time to savour the cheeses that benefit from ageing, which are now ten to eighteen months old, and the Vacherins produced after the first cold snap. You can also offer on your cheeseboard Époisses, Maroilles, Muenster, Comté, Livarot, Roquefort, Brie de Melun, Camembert, Pont-l'Évêque, and the blue varieties.

In spring, from April to June

Goats and cows begin to graze on the first grass in the pastures, so their milk is fragrant and flowery. Bries, Coulommiers, the entire goat-cheese family and fresh cheeses are at their very best.

In summer, from July to September

The first ripened cheeses, such as soft, washed rinds and bloomy rinds, are reaching maturity. This is the season of Langres, Pont-l'Évêque, Maroilles, Camembert, Saint-Nectaire... And don't forget fresh cheeses, Brousses, or goat cheeses.

In autumn, from October to December

The regrowth of the second mowing of grass imparts big flavours to cheeses. The variety is tempting, since Époisses, Muenster, Cantal, Roquefort, Brie, and Camembert are perfect just now. In the heart of winter, Vacherin is at its best.

The seasons of milk?

Most cheeses are better at certain times of the year. The notion of a cheese season, however, hides a small inaccuracy. Actually, it's less the time of consumption of a cheese that counts than its time of production.

For example, spring and autumn milk is richer because the cows, goats and sheep graze on grass enriched with wildflowers during these two seasons. The best cheeses, therefore, are those that are made from this milk. After that, however, it's all a question of ripening. A cheese that needs to remain in the hâloir (drying room) for six months will be delicious in the middle of winter.

Don't hesitate to ask us for advice.