Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese: A Complete Guide

Are you a cheese lover looking to expand your palate? Look no further than Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the history, production process, flavor profile, and serving suggestions of this iconic French cheese. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or a curious newbie, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to fully appreciate the unique qualities of Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese.

History of Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese

Origins of Sainte-Maure de Touraine

The origins of Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese can be traced back to the 8th century in the Touraine region of France. It is believed that the cheese was first created by monks who settled in the area and began producing cheese as a way to preserve milk.

Traditional Production Methods

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is traditionally made from raw, unpasteurized milk from the local goats in the region. The cheese is shaped into a cylindrical log with a straw running through the center, which helps the cheese to maintain its shape as it ages. The cheese is then aged for a minimum of 10 days, during which time it develops a natural rind and a creamy, slightly tangy flavor.

Cultural Significance

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese holds a special place in French culture and cuisine. It has been granted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status, which means that it must be produced according to strict guidelines in order to carry the name. The cheese is often enjoyed as a standalone snack or paired with crusty bread, fresh fruit, and a glass of wine. It is also a popular ingredient in many traditional French dishes, adding a unique flavor and texture to dishes such as salads, omelettes, and tarts.

Characteristics of Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese

Appearance and Texture

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is known for its distinctive log shape, which is formed by hand-rolling the cheese in ash before aging. The exterior of the cheese is covered with a natural, edible mold that develops during the aging process. The texture of the cheese is creamy and slightly crumbly, with a soft and supple interior.

Flavor Profile

The flavor of Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is complex and tangy, with a hint of earthiness and a subtle nuttiness. The ash coating adds a slight mineral note to the cheese, while the creamy interior balances out the tanginess with a smooth and luscious finish.

Aging Process

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is typically aged for at least 2 weeks, but can be aged for up to 2 months for a more pronounced flavor. During the aging process, the cheese develops a rich and creamy texture, while the flavors become more intense and complex. The natural mold on the exterior of the cheese helps to protect and preserve the interior, allowing it to mature gracefully over time.

How to Serve and Enjoy Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is a versatile and delicious cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are some tips on how to serve and enjoy this famous French cheese:

Pairing Suggestions

Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese pairs well with a wide range of foods and beverages. Some popular pairing suggestions include:

  • Fresh baguette or crusty bread
  • Sliced pears or apples
  • Walnuts or almonds
  • Honey or fig jam
  • White wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre
  • Red wines such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon

Experiment with different pairings to find your perfect match!

Accompaniments

In addition to pairing suggestions, there are also a variety of accompaniments that can enhance the flavor of Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese. Some popular accompaniments include:

  • Olives
  • Dried fruits such as apricots or cherries
  • Cured meats such as prosciutto or salami
  • Cornichons or pickles
  • Mustard or chutney

Feel free to get creative with your accompaniments to create a unique and delicious cheese board.

Proper Storage Tips

To ensure that your Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese stays fresh and delicious, it is important to store it properly. Here are some tips for proper storage:

  • Keep the cheese wrapped in wax paper or parchment paper to allow it to breathe.
  • Store the cheese in the refrigerator, ideally in the vegetable or cheese drawer.
  • Avoid storing the cheese near strong-smelling foods, as it can absorb odors easily.
  • Bring the cheese to room temperature before serving to enhance its flavor and texture.

By following these tips, you can enjoy Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese at its best. Bon appétit!

Where to Buy Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese

Local Cheese Shops

One of the best places to buy authentic Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is at local cheese shops. These shops often source their products directly from producers in France, ensuring the highest quality and freshness. Look for a specialty cheese shop in your area that carries a selection of French cheeses, including Sainte-Maure de Touraine.

Online Retailers

If you don’t have access to a local cheese shop that carries Sainte-Maure de Touraine, you can also purchase it online. There are several online retailers that specialize in gourmet cheeses and offer a wide selection of French cheeses, including Sainte-Maure de Touraine. Make sure to read reviews and check the shipping policies to ensure your cheese arrives in perfect condition.

Farmers’ Markets

Another great place to find Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is at farmers’ markets. Many local producers and artisan cheesemakers sell their products directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, giving you the opportunity to meet the people behind the cheese. Look for a farmers’ market in your area that features a variety of artisanal cheeses, including Sainte-Maure de Touraine.

Recipes Featuring Sainte-Maure de Touraine Cheese

Sainte-Maure de Touraine Salad

For a delicious and refreshing salad, try combining fresh mixed greens, sliced strawberries, toasted walnuts, and crumbled Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese. Drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a perfect balance of flavors.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine Tart

To make a savory tart featuring Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese, start by pre-baking a tart shell. Fill the tart shell with a mixture of beaten eggs, cream, chopped fresh herbs, and crumbled Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese. Bake until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine Crostini

For a simple yet elegant appetizer, top toasted baguette slices with a spread of goat cheese and a slice of Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper for a delightful combination of sweet and savory flavors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is a truly unique and delicious cheese that is steeped in history and tradition. From its distinctive log shape to its creamy texture and earthy flavor, this cheese is sure to delight even the most discerning cheese connoisseur. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a glass of wine, Sainte-Maure de Touraine cheese is a versatile and flavorful addition to any cheese board. So next time you’re looking to impress your guests or simply treat yourself to a special culinary experience, be sure to reach for a piece of this iconic French cheese.