The southwest of France is the birthplace of the unique Chaumes® (pronounced Shohm) meaning literally "stubble". Made of cow's milk, its creation was inspired by the traditional Trappist style cheeses. Beneath the distinctive golden rind lies the pale mellow creamy paste with a rich full-bodied flavor. It is a very popular cheese among modern French varieties. Chaumes brings a warm color and diversity to any cheese platter, it is a favorite for children's snacks and delicious with crusty breads.
Chaumes is a round, soft-ripened cheese with a bright orange washed rind and an ivory paste. The rind appears after several washings of the crust, along with brushing with some ferments. Chaumes is distinguished by soft, springy texture a rich, creamy paste and a hazelnut aftertaste. An excellent table cheese, it also melts well for a nice addition to any recipe. Serve Chaumes on a cheese platter with Camembert and Blue Stilton or with Brie and Roquefort. Ale, sparkling apple cider and dry whites are good pairings for Chaumes.
Since 1977, Chaumes has been made in the town of Saint Antoine de Breuilh, in the Dordogne department of south-western France. The recipe for this cheese has remained unchanged since it was launched in 1971. The ingredients in Chaumes are: pasteurized cow's milk, salt, rind colorant (beta-carotene), and preservative (egg white extract), for avoiding the swelling of the cheese. It takes 4 gallons of cow's milk to make a Chaumes cheese weighing 4.5 pounds. The milk is provided by some 190 producers of the region. Production is controlled by Master Cheese-makers. Each cheese is washed and brushed several times during the ripening phase. The two to three weeks ripening period is essential for developing the fullness of the aromas. It also gives the cheese its specific flavor and complex character, its aromatic notes of fruit, and its springy but creamy texture. Not only can the Chaumes rind be eaten, but it is even recommended, as the rind offers flavors not found in the paste.
The principal stages of production are: 1. Preparation: Standardizing and preparing the milk for transformation into cheese (regulation of fat-to-dry ratio). Pasteurization of the milk. 2. Clotting: Pressurization and lactic starters cause the milk to pass from a liquid to a solid state. 3. Cutting and Stirring: The resulting curd is cut and stirred to facilitate the draining off of the serum. 4. Molding: The curd is put into perforated molds, which give the cheeses their definitive shape. 5. Draining: The cheeses are drained (serum removal). 6. Unmolding: The cheeses are taken out of the molds and put on cheese mats. 7. Salting: To preserve the cheeses, they are salted in brine. This process also causes the formation of the rind and gives the cheese its taste. 8. Ripening: The cheeses are ripened in ripening rooms where the temperature and humidity are controlled. There, they are washed and brushed four or five times, and the aromas and texture develop during this stage. Here the Master Cheese-makers constantly safeguard the quality of the cheeses and assure the uniformity.