23 octobre 2021

Everything you always wanted to know about farm Saint-Nectaire without ever daring to ask

A royal cheese which, through Henri de Sennecterre, Marshal of France, was served at the table of the Sun King!

Saint-Nectaire AOP farmer, the flagship of Auvergne cheeses!
A royal cheese which, through Henri de Sennecterre, Marshal of France, was served at the table of the Sun King!
Maybe it will end up on your table for the holidays …

Saint-Nectaire, the “nectar of nature”, according to the advertising slogan!
Its appellation of origin area is part of the Auvergne Volcanoes Natural Park, a preserved region, at an average altitude of 1000m, with abundant flora and various aromatic plants which are the originality of this terroir. The cows are fed mainly on grass and hay from natural meadows.

Saint-Nectaire AOP farmer is made morning and evening, just after each milking, with raw, whole cow’s milk from the appellation area.

The renneted milk is curdled to extract the whey and obtain a tome which is placed in a mold, pressed, salted, dried, then washed in salted water, turned over, rubbed during careful refining in a natural cellar of a minimum duration of 4 weeks. A beautiful crust is then formed with white, yellow and red flowers, like the flowers of pastures that cows have grazed.

However, for its crust, flora and taste to be at their peak, it must be matured for 8 to 10 weeks.

The texture and taste of a Saint-Nectaire can vary considerably from one cheese to another, especially depending on the ripening time, which is often insufficient. But, it depends on taste. It can be more or less fatty, more or less salty … You have to taste it before buying it.
In the past, the majority of farms produced Saint-Nectaire exclusively with milk from Salers and Ferrandese cows.

Salers are magnificent animals with curly hair of a beautiful mahogany color and impressive lyre-shaped horns.

For multiple reasons, insufficient manpower, development of dairies, milk quotas, … everything changed, especially from 1975.
Quickly the farmers abandoned the Salers in favor of the Montbéliarde, Prim’holstein and Abundance breeds, cows easier to milk – without her calf, the Salers cow, very maternal, does not give her milk! – and above all more productive.
Salers gives half the milk, but an exceptional milk, with an excellent ratio between the protein rate and the fat content which allows a high quality of ripening and gives the cheese an exceptional taste.

Some breeders are reviving the tradition and making Saint-Nectaire with 100% milk from the Salers cow. Confidential production.

In the past, all the Saint-Nectaire wines were matured in natural cellars dug in the volcanic tuff, on rye straw. This practice is becoming rare because of the encouragement of the health services to abandon old vaulted cellars for artificial “cellars”, with controlled temperature and humidity.

At the expense of the taste … nutty … and the formation of those beautiful yellow flowers on the crust.
But there too, some farmers resist these hygienic injunctions, in order to preserve the essential, the taste quality of a local product.

The sector brings together more than 200 farm producers, a third of whom refine their cheeses themselves to sell them directly to the farm or to traders.

It was of course affected, like all French cheese PDOs, by the collapse of the markets linked to Covid-19.
Get involved! Eat farmhouse Saint-Nectaire AOP for the Holidays!

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