During the middle ages in France, monastic orders played a major role in developing regional cheeses. These influences live on in cheeses like Saint-Paulin, Tete-de-Moine and perhaps the most famous of all, Munster.
The name ‘Munster’ is derived from the little town where Vosgian monks created a soft, washed rind cheese made from cows’ milk from the Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comte regions. Also known as Munster Gerome, it is protected by an Appelation de’Origine Controlee (AOC) which requires the cheese be made from unpasteurised cows’ milk called crude milk. Matured in damp cellars and regularly washed with brine, it should have a slick, orange or brick coloured rind, soft pale centre, strong penetrating odour and very strong taste.
The best Munster Cheeses are produced in the summer and autumn when the cows graze on the high stubble of the Vosges and the milk is at its richest. Storage can present problems for a cheese as pungent as this, so it’s essential it is well sealed. It should keep well in the fridge for several weeks if first wrapped in waxy parchment paper and then well sealed in a plastic container.