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Cantal/Fourme de Cantal
A hard, strong French cows'-milk cheese, which has been made in a similar style in the Auvergne area for more than 2,000 years.
The cheese is made from the milk of Salers or Aubrac cows and protected by appellation d'origine (A.O.C) granted in 1980. It's often thought of as the French Cheddar, and has a smooth, close-textured, yellow paste with a pleasant rather nutty flavour. The rind is dry, grey and powdery.
It's a pressed uncooked cheese, ripened between three and six months. A well-ripened cheese has a strong taste, while a younger one the sweetness of raw milk.
There are two main types: Cantal Laitier, a pasteurised version made all year round in creameries, and Cantal Fermier, made in summer during the period of transhumance in mountain huts (burons) or fruitieres.
The latter is especially prized but seldom found outside France. The cheese is also sometimes called Salers, Fourme de Cantal and Fourme de Salers.