World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a cheese in season.
This week Vacherin Fribourgeois from Switzerland.
Country: Switzerland 🇨🇭
Region: Bulle, Fribourg & Jura
Made from: Cow’s milk
Texture: Firm, open
Taste: Acidic, buttery, nutty
Aging: 6 to 25 weeks
Vacherin is a cow's milk (French vache, "cow") cheese. Two main types of French or Swiss Vacherin cheeses exist.
One type is called Mont d'Or, or Vacherin du Haut-Doubs, from France, or Vacherin Mont d'Or from Switzerland (though it tends to just be called Vacherin in the local shops).
The other Vacherin, a firmer Swiss cheese, is called Vacherin Fribourgeois. Vacherin Fribourgeois AOC is a Swiss semi-soft cheese made with raw cow’s milk in the towns of Bulle (Canton Vaud) and Fribourg (Canton Fribourg in west-central Switzerland). This cheese is also made in other parts of Switzerland including the Jura Mountains on the border of France.
It has a slightly acidic, resiny flavor, akin to Italian Fontina, with a varying strength depending on the age and type. It is also a basic component lending character to fondues (depending on the recipe). Vacherin Fribourgeois has Swiss AOC status with 6 varieties being available:
Classic (aged: 6–12 weeks)
Extra (aged: minimum 12 weeks)
Rustic (aged: minimum 12 weeks, but up to 25 weeks (6 months))
Alpage (aged: 12–25 weeks)
Mountain (aged 9–25 weeks)
Bio (Organic) (aged: minimum 9 weeks)
The milk for the cheese is sourced from Fribourgeois breed of cows that graze on the Alpine grass and wildflowers all the way through the late spring and summer. As early fall arrives, the cows are brought down to graze on grass and summer hay. No other fodder is given to the cows except the Alpine meadows.
The cheesemakers treat the cow’s milk that is delivered to them each day in their village dairies - a high-quality, rich, fragrant raw material. The cheese is then made according to a traditional, unique original recipe.
Freiburger Vacherin AOP is aged and treated very carefully, which makes it an excellent cheese to eat on its own.
This traditional cheese making process ensures that Vacherin Fribourgeois has a pleasant nutty flavour underpinned by notes of fresh hay and milk. Vacherin has an unpalatable natural and brushed washed rind with a stinky aroma, but it does not overpower the lovely smell of the cheese. The interior of the cheese is straw coloured with an open and buttery texture. The older the vacherin gets, the stronger the smell of ammonia due to microorganism activity in the cheese.
How to enjoy it
Vacherin Fribourgeois is used in fondues, cooking and as a table cheese. As a basic ingredient, it gives the well known “half and half fondue” (half Gruyère AOP and half Freiburger Vacherin AOP) a thick creamy texture and pleasant taste.
It is a great melting cheese, so try it on grilled sandwiches, potatoes or over steamed vegetables. Big and bold Burgundy’s, Bordeaux or reds from the Rhone Valley in France will complement the cheese well.
Source: cheese.com, Wikipedia, cheese.com, cheesesfromswitzerland.com, vacherin-fribourgeois-aop.ch, myswitzerland.com, vinatis.com