It is not to be confused with the simpler variety of French Emmental used for shredding! Emmental de Savoie PGI is a cheese board cheese with a fruity favor, which is matured over a long period.
What you need to know
Emmental de Savoie PGI makes up just 1% of Emmental cheese produced in France and is only made in 3 cellars known as fruitières, located in the departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. It is made with raw cow's milk from the Abondance, Montbéliarde and Tarentaise breeds. The cows are fed on 100% local hay in the winter and in summer, graze on pastures where they make the most of the rich local flora. This diet is supplemented with guaranteed GM-free cereals. The milk must be processed within 48 hours of milking. After the addition of natural yeasts, the milk is mixed with a rennet and heated. This transforms it into curds. The cheesemaker draws on his experience to judge when the consistency is correct. Next comes the most important stage, decurding. The cheesemaker cuts the curds using a curd slicer, reducing the curds to pieces the size of a grain of rice. At this point, the lactoserum (whey) separates from the curd. This mixture is stirred and heated for an hour at 127-129 °F. The cheesemaker tests its elasticity and cohesiveness by squeezing the curd grains in his or her hand. The mixture is then transferred to molds and the lactoserum that rises to the surface is removed. Casein labels are placed on the wheels for traceability purposes; the curd is then pressed with a tray called a "follower". After several hours of pressing, the cheeses are removed from the molds, wrapped in a cloth and encased in a retaining ring before being transferred to an acidification room for a night, to allow the yeasts and ferments to take effect. The following day, the wheels are unwrapped and immersed in brine (a mixture of water and salt) for 48 hours. The ripening process is carried out by a master ripener, first in a cold cellar (43 °F) for three weeks, then in a warm (59 °F) cellar for three weeks and finally in a very warm cellar (73 °F).
This is when the holes form and the wheel takes on its characteristic convex shape. The cheese is matured for 75 to 100 days, sometimes even 120. The master ripener checks how the wheels are ripening by tapping them with a small mallet. The sound this makes indicates how the cheese is developing. When it is ready, the wheel is marked "Savoie" around its rim.
Like all hard cheeses, it is very rich in calcium. It also has a high protein content and is not very salty.
How to use
Tasting Tip Emmental de Savoie PGI
Emmental de Savoie PGI is not an ordinary shredding cheese, it is a true cheese board cheese, with its own personality. It is enjoyed with bread that is not too white, nor too acidic and should be one of the first cheeses you select, due to its mild and fruity taste. Of course, it can also be used in cooking: diced in a mixed salad, in a gratin, in a cake or in shavings over a thick soup.
Savory: veal, pork, Crozet pasta, vegetables.
Wines: Crémant de Savoie, white wines from Savoie in general (Chignin Bergeron, Abymes…)