Raw Milk Vacherin Fribourgeois Switzerland
The vacherin fribourgeois is a semi-hard and semi-cooked cheese made in the Canton of Fribourg, not to be confused with vacherin Mont d’Or, a creamy, small sized cheese produced in the Jura Region. The vacherin fribourgeois of the Presidium is produced in some areas of the Canton, both on Alpine pastures and in the lowlands, using exclusively raw milk.
Vacherin fribourgeois was initially an alpine pasture cheese, produced at the beginning of the hot season, when the amount of milk available was not sufficient to produce the region’s most important cheese, the famous Gruyère. The production of small-loaf cheeses, i.e vacherin, hence took place: a sort of ‘little brother’ which expressed though all the excellent characteristics of the pastures and the skills of the local cheese makers. Therefore it was not by chance that vacherin fribourgeois and Gruyère used to age simultaneously in the ripening cellars, one beside the other, mutually influencing one another, as they still do today.
The name vacherin derives from the Latin vaccarinus, meaning the young assistant of the cowman who was in charge of the lighter cheeses (the vacherins). In the 1950’s, for reasons of hygiene, heat-treatments of the milk became more and more practiced in the production of the vacherin fribourgeois, causing the loss of traditional knowledge and the impoverishment of its specific organoleptic features.For the preparation of the Presidium’s vacherin, the morning milk is added to the one of the previous evening and heated traditionally on a fire of forest wood on the Alpine pastures. After the usual procedures of curdling, breaking the curd, draining and shaping the cheese, the technique of curd washing is practiced. This enables the release of lactose and the decrease of acidity, and is rare outside Holland. The minimum time of ripening is three months, by which time the cheese has acquired a unique flavour and an optimal texture.
Its rind, typically grey-brown or red-brown in colour, is washed, and is generally wavy or even pleated. The inner paste is soft and creamy, the flavour fruity and intense, the taste acidulous and slightly bitter. The vacherin fribourgeois is an extraordinary dessert cheese, but it is also used in the preparation of fondues, such as the fondue fribourgeoise (consisting of vacherin fribourgeois and a few drops of water).
The producers of the Presidium prepare the vacherin fribougeois exclusively with raw milk coming from the dairy itself, and when not possible, from local producers living within 5 km from the dairy. Nowadays, of the 2500 tons of vacherin fribourgeois DOP produced annually, only 2% is prepared with raw milk. In addition, the aging must be at least three moths as after 90 days the vacherin fribourgeois expresses all its characteristics, in particular the alluring sweetness which derives mainly from the delactosage technique: the washing of the curd.
Canton of Fribourg
Presidium supported by
André Remy (President)
Coopérative fribourgeoise des producteurs de fromage d’alpage
en Coppet 12
CH 1637 Charmey
tel. +41 269271523
Laiterie de Belfaux
Route du Centre 30
CH 1782 Belfaux
tel. +41 264752601
CH 1633 Marsens
tel. +41 269152842
Presidium producers coordinator
Tel. +41 796380083
Slow Food Presidium coordinator
Tel. +41 796430743