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What is Cantal?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Cantal is a type of cheese that comes from the Cantal region of France. Two types of this cheese exist including fermier and laitier. The main difference between the two is the type of milk that is used during production. Almost all cantal cheese is made from pasteurized milk, though some types of this cheese are made from unpasteurized milk.

Cheese that can be considered fermier is derived from unpasteurized milk. While available in some regions of France, unpasteurized cheese is rare in most other parts of the world. Cheese that has been made from pasteurized milk, or latier cheese, is sold around the world. Even though each type of cheese is distinctly unique in every manner, both types of cheese must be made according to strict regulation.

From 15 November to 15 April of each year, the cows that produce the milk used for canatal are fed hay. During the rest of the year, the same cows are fed grass. Even though the grass-fed cows and the hay-fed cows are the same breed of cow, grass-fed cow milk can only be used to produce salers cheese. Salers cheese is similar to cantal cheese, but it is a raw cheese that has been pressed, but not cooked.

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As with various other types of cheese, cantal is aged for many months prior to sale. The outside of this cheese is rather hard, though the inside is moist. Many people compare it to a fine cheddar, though the taste of the cheese largely depends upon the amount of time it has been allowed to age. Younger cheese has a mild flavor, while older cheese has a complex, and strong, taste.

Older cheese can be kept inside of a refrigerator for up to one year if wrapped properly, though younger cheese must be consumed right away. Due to its popularity within the Cantal region of France, older cheese of this variety is rarely sold in other parts of the world. This type of cheese is consumed raw, used to produce soups, stews, and dips, and is often added to baked foods.

Based on the fact that this kind of cheese has forty-five percent fat, it is an ideal melting cheese that is frequently used while making many different types of gratin, cheese laden, dishes. Cantal can be purchased through specialty cheese retailers. Alternatively, anyone visiting the Cantal region of France can purchase this type of cheese at various cheese shops.

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