Muenster is a semi-firm cheese, which originated in the Haut-Rhin of Alsace, France. This is a soft and creamy cheese made mostly from cow’s milk. The cheese has a yellowish inner layer with an orange or red rind. Muenster has very strong smell once the cheese is aged, and the young Muenster has a mild flavor. The cheese is being produced mainly in France, Germany, Copenhagen (Denmark), and Wisconsin (United States of America). The American version of the cheese has a milder flavor when compared to the European version of the cheese. The French, American, and the German forms vary in flavor, odor, and texture.It is a washed cheese, where 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 Muenster Cheese
The cheese is believed to have been originated in the Alsace valley in France, though there are various citing which claim the origin of the cheese. The first of the cheeses was made by the Irish monks of the St. Gregory monastery in Alsace, France. Muenster in French is spelt as ‘Munster’ and it comes from the Latin word ‘monasterium’ which means monastery. There are also claims that the cheese is not French or German origin and is originally from Ireland. The cheese is thought be named after the Irish province of Munster, in Ireland. It was also noted that the Cheese recipe was found in the 9th century Irish language. Yet another claim is whether the term is German or French, since the cheese was first developed in the Alsace region. The Alsace region was always fought over between France and Germany, and the region has been transferred between both the countries many times.
Culinary Variations of Muenster Cheese
There are three main variations of the cheese like - French, German, and American. The French version is considered as the best quality among the Muenster. There are again variations inside the French version of the cheese namely the Farmhouse version and the Industrial version. The farmhouse type uses the unpasteurized milk for preparing the cheese while the industrial version uses the pasteurized milk. The flavor and smell of the industrial variety is mild, when compared to the farmhouse cheese. The cheese produced by the farmhouse is given the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Certification. Munster-Géromé a French version of Muenster has Anise seeds in the cheese and the few other French variations include cumin or caraway seeds.
The German cheese is produced mainly by two companies – Glocknerhof and Käserei Zurwies. Though Germany has been known for the cheese production but after the Nazi decline the cheese exporting from the company has declined.
North American variety, though a copy of the European version, is bland in nature. The cheese is soft, moist and pale with no smell on its rind. The American cheese is made with pasteurized whole milk and given an aging time of three weeks.
Nutritive facts of Muenster Cheese