Munster is a soft cheese mostly made from cow’s milk and has originated from France. It is also known by the names - Munster Fermenté or Munster-Géromé. A traditional cheese will have a creamy Yellow to Orange center along with a dark red coating. The cheese also has a definite flavor and scent which makes it unique. The cheese is normally served with Rye bread, Baked Potato or with wines like Gewürztraminer. One of the unique features of the Munster include that it is made out of raw milk or unpasteurized milk. The process of cheese making has been prescribed to follow certain regulations under the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). It is often referred as a ‘Washed Cheese’, since the rind of the cheese is washed at periodic intervals. The washing helps to retain the flavors in the cheese and provides it with a strong smell.
History of Munster Cheese
The cheese is believed to have originated in Vosges in France during the Middles ages. It is also believed that the cheese would have been named after the town Munster in Vosges, France, where Irish monks had settled during the seventh century. The cheese was kept at the monk’s cellars in the monasteries for maturation process. Munster is also thought to have originated from the Latin word, ‘Monasterium’, which means monastery. The two different names of the cheese have developed during the seventh century. The herdsmen and the herdswoman known as the Serfs were to pay their debts with cheese and butter. The Political protectors like the Duke, the Count, and noble men were all a part of this tradition of financing the herdsmen. The practice slowly diminished though it remained in two places namely the - Gerardmer and Munster in France. Hence the cheese got its name Gérômé and Munster.
Culinary Uses of Munster Cheese
The cheese is mostly combined with Red wines like Corton, Haut-Médoc, Côte-Rôties, or Pinot rouge d'Alsace. The Munster is also used in various types of French cooking as it melts very well into the dishes creating a unique flavor. The cheese is authentically combined with Onions and Potatoes. The cheese is also popularly served with most of the quiches, especially with baked potatoes.
Cuisines using Munster Gerome
Since the cheese hails from the French region, it is popularly used in most of the French dishes and is considered as traditional part of the French Cuisine. Charcuterie, a French dish and a specialty of Alsace, uses the Munster as one of its ingredient. The other ingredients include- ham and a range of sausages, galantine, flavored cabbage, spices or herbs. The dish can be served hot or cold. The Cheese is also combined with Green Salads, Walnut, Poppy or Cumin seeds, and freshly baked bread.
Preferable Processing Method of Munster Gerome
The preparation begins with the fermentation of the milk and curd formation. Once the curds are formed it is made into cheese moulds and then drained to remove excess water content. The cheese is kept outside the shelves for the aging process and later brought indoors for storing. It is kept along with the old cheese so that it gets a typical odor. The Munster is washed every day with salt brine, so that a thick bright red rind is formed. The cheese develops a strong and slight acidic flavor, depending on the duration it is kept for the cheese maturation process. Normally it is stored for two months, as a part of the aging process so that it becomes soft, flavorless and creamy. By storing for a longer period, the cheese has more bacterial action which adds to its flavors.
Nutritive Value of Munster Cheese
- A typical cheese consists of nearly 100 calories per serving with 72 % fat, 24% protein, and 4% carbohydrates.
- The cheese contains very high levels of milk and fat proteins.
- It also consists of high levels of Vitamin A, Calcium, Sodium, and Potassium.
- The Munster does not contain any dietary fiber, sugar, or other Vitamins.
Various Approvals for Munsters
The cheese is certified under the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), where the producers of the cheese are required to follow strict guidelines to process the cheese. A commission was also formed by the syndicat interprofessionnel du fromage de Munster, as a professional supervising committee to check on the processing guidelines. Based on the committee’s reports in 1982, though 8027 tones of Munster were produced, only 10% of it was exported.
- The best of Munster géromé is available during the summer and autumn and the best cheese available comes from haute vallée de Munster in France.
- The Munster also has an American version to it, but has a milder flavor.