Cheese is a fundamental component of French gastronomy, and today we are going to explain the different stages of its production. Join us as we visit a dairy on the outskirts of Paris to show you how delicious cheese is made – the French way.
Located in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, the dairy is a jewel in the crown of the Paris region. Founded by Xavier Hugol-Gential, who is passionate about cheese, this small business uses organic milk sourced from a neighbouring region, within a distance of 100 kilometres. The products are made on the premises using traditional and artisanal methods.
From tank to curdling
The visit starts at 10 a.m. when we are warmly welcomed by Xavier who invites us for a behind-the-scenes look at cheese-making. We don our shoe covers, wash our hands and let the magic begin. At 10.30 am, the milk arrives at the dairy in a tanker and is transferred to a large vat. This morning there are 1,200 litres!
The milk is raw, which preserves all of its natural properties. It is heated to 31°C, an ideal temperature for the starter culture added by Hugo to get to work, which gives the cheese its unique taste.
Then rennet is added according to a precise calculation. This curdles the milk and is a crucial stage in cheese-making. Within 10 minutes, the milk starts to curdle and harden. Xavier and his team constantly check the texture by hand to ensure that it is curdling properly. The milk will take one hour to solidify completely.
A matter of teamwork
In the meantime, Maeva assembles the moulds for 'Le Claquos de Saint-Ouen', a cheese that takes its inspiration from camembert. Once the curds have the texture of 'baked custard', Rozenn activates the blades that cut them into squares.
The curds are then allowed to rest so that they separate from the whey, which is siphoned off. Next, Maeva and Rozenn work together to install the mixers that enable the curds to remain separate and prevent them from hardening.
The curds are then placed in the moulds and left to drain, during which they will be turned several times. They then dry overnight.
The next day, the cheeses are removed from their moulds, salted and left to rest on a rack before being placed in the cellar for ripening. For 'Le Claquos', this process takes 21 days. During this time, the cheeses are attended to regularly, their crust is washed and they are turned.
When the cheeses are ready, Maeva wraps and labels them for sale.
The products of the Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine dairy are real artisanal gems, with a singular and authentic taste. The organic milk used in their production gives them an incomparable flavour. The customers have the guarantee that the products they consume are fresh and made with passion and know-how.
The team tastes the cheeses every Monday to check ripening. A step that we made sure not to miss. Bon appétit!
Fromaville: 10 Rue des Bateliers, 93400 Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, France.