Norman cheeses 

The neufchâtel

(AOC since 1969)
Neufchâtel, Bondon, Bondard, Gournay, Coeur de Bray, Malakoff.

A neufchâtel
A neufchâtel

Description

Type Flowered rind cheese.
Milk Cow milk.
Aspect Six different shapes :
Square, "briquette", "bondon" of 100 gr.
Heart and "double-bonde" of 200 gr.
Big heart of 600 gr.
45% of fat.
White flowered rind cheese, slightly downy.
With aging it acquires a more yellow tint with small red spots when it is very ripe.
Region Neufchâtel-en-Bray

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History

The supporters of this cheese claim that it is the oldest Norman cheese. They argue that a text from the year 1035 A.D. mentions the production of cheeses in the Neufchâtel-en-Bray countryside. In fact, it was born "officially" in 1543 in the ledgers of the Saint-Aman Abbey (of Rouen) where a cheese was termed Neufchatel. At that period the cheese was probably already matured in the cellars of that country that was covered naturally with penicillium candidum.

It is known that since the Middle Ages the Neufchatel cheese had many shapes, depending on fashion or simply on the moulds the producer owned ! The legend explains that the heart shape is due to the young Norman women that wanted to express discreetly their feelings to the English soldiers during the wars in the Middle Age ...

During the XIXth century, the prodution of Neufchatel increased strongly and Napoleon III is said to have received a huge basket of Norman cheeses containing lots of Neufchatel cheeses that he appreciated. At that moment it was known as one of the best French cheeses and was consumed all over France. Nevertheless, slowly, its production decreased - more specifically, after the Second World War. The producers and the market laws are responsible for that disaffection since the production of cheeses has become less attractive than the sale of the milk to huge dairies.

Fortunately, since 1958, a trade association has existed to protect and defend that cheese. Finally, in 1969, it received an AOC.

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Making

  • As soon it is drawn, the milk is poured into large balls arond 20°C and the rennet is immediatly added, sometimes with some lactic ferments.
  • The milk coagulation lasts between 24 and 36 hours.
  • The curd is drained off in hung bags for twelve hours.
  • Then the bags are pressed under heavy loads for twelve hours.
  • The "pastry" is mixed and covered with penicillium candidum
  • The pastry is moulded.
  • The cheese is matured on shelves.
  • Manually salted.
  • The cheeses are matured in cellars (12 to 14 °Celsius, 95% humidity), for approximately 10 days.
  • They can be eaten "young" or matured.

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Variations

In addition to the six traditional shapes, there are many variations of the Neufchatel.

  • The bondon, is probably an old version of the Neufchatel (cylinder 5cm diameter and 6cm thick).
  • The bondard , cylindre of 9cm, is a bondon with more cream (double-creme). Its maturing process is longer.
  • The Gournay is similar to the Neufchâtel but is produced in the Gournay-en-Bray countryside and looks like a small quoit.
  • The Malakoff is a young Gournay.
  • The "Coeur de Bray" (Heart of Bray) is a young Neufchatel.

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Links, addresses and information

Syndicat du Fromage de Neufchâtel (Trade Association)
Mairie BP88
76270 Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Tel: +33 (0)2 32 97 53 01

Confrérie des compagnons du fromage de Neufchâtel
Mairie BP88
76270 Neufchâtel-en-Bray
Association that encourages quality and promotes the Neufchâtel cheese.

Bray Gourmand
20, place Notre-Dame
76220 Gournay-en-Bray
Promotes the countryside and the products of the Bray country.