THE Cheese from Alsace: Munster

13 02 2009

If you Google “Alsace cheese” or something along those lines, one name comes up repeatedly: Munster.  Browsing the cheese displays of most French supermarkets will yield the same results.  Considering this is a major, AOC-class French cheese, there is surprisingly little information about it available on the interwebs, at least in English.  (For one of the most poorly written Wikipedia articles I’ve ever seen, click here.)

What I have been able to determine is that it is an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a fat content of 45%.  It is aged 10 weeks or so, and during that time the rind is washed with a saltwater solution.

Munster photo by Nick

What I learned from bringing half a cheese home with me is that Munster stinks.  This is normal, and to be expected with washed-rind cheeses, but this one is particularly pungent.  Nick went so far as to call the smell “bathroom-y” while I prefer the slightly more appetizing description, “barnyard-y.”  As in, perhaps, stables that haven’t been cleaned in a while.  The smell notwithstanding, the cheese is delicious.  The creamy pâte is loaded with earthy flavors, mushroomy and herbaceous, bordering on meaty.  The rind is edible, though strong enough that I prefer to cut off a bit of it so as to better appreciate the subtlety of the cheese inside.

We’d better eat the rest of it soon, because I think the eggs are starting to have an identity crisis – you would, too, if you woke up smelling like that.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.



5 responses

13 02 2009

I just bought something that I believe is quite similar to this from Cato Corner Farm at the farmers market in New York…I opened my fridge after leaving it in there for an hour or so and almost passed out. I was wondering what on earth had died! I just put it in it’s own little tupperware container which seems to have solved the problem.

13 02 2009
Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

So funny “he” should say that as I have noticed that many incredible cheese’s often do have that smell!! If you can get past it like you said you are in for a treat!!

14 02 2009

Oh, this made me chortle. I had the same experience- Ryan was nearly bowled over by the..aroma….that took over my mini-fridge. I wonder how on earth American munster thinks it came from this behemoth…

16 02 2009

The smelliest cheeses usually taste the best. In my opinion anyway!

17 02 2009

Laura – The thing is, I kind of enjoy the reminder that I have a tasty cheese waiting for me… 🙂

Cathy – Fortunately we are both pretty adventurous eaters – it takes more than a little smell to stop us eating cheese!

Colleen – I know, the similarity stops with the name.

Sam – I agree!

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