Raclette cheese, a true gem of Alpine cuisine, has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. This ultimate guide will take you on a journey through the varieties, traits, and popularity of raclette cheese, both in France, Switzerland, and beyond. From its unique texture and exquisite taste to the differences between French and Swiss raclette, we'll explore it all. So, get ready to indulge in the warm and welcoming world of raclette cheese!
The history of Raclette
The history of raclette cheese dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in the Alpine regions of France and Switzerland. The name "raclette" comes from the French word "racler," which means "to scrape." This name perfectly describes the traditional method of melting the cheese and scraping it onto a plate.
It is believed that raclette cheese was first made by shepherds in the mountains as a way to use up surplus milk during the summer months. The cheese was melted over an open fire, and the melted portion was scraped onto bread or potatoes, providing a nourishing and satisfying meal for the shepherds. Over time, raclette cheese became popular among locals and began to spread beyond the mountain regions. In the 19th century, raclette cheese gained recognition as a culinary delight, and its popularity continued to grow. Today, it is enjoyed by people around the world, both in traditional Alpine settings and in various modern interpretations.
What is Raclette cheese?
Raclette cheese has a semi-hard texture that is both creamy and supple. It is firm enough to hold its shape but becomes wonderfully melty when heated, making it perfect for the traditional scraping method. The texture of raclette cheese adds to its appeal, as it provides a satisfying mouthfeel that combines smoothness with a slight springiness.
The flavor of raclette cheese is rich, nutty, and slightly sweet, with a pleasant hint of earthiness. It has a subtle tang that balances the overall taste profile. The cheese develops its complex flavors during the aging process, which can range from a few months to several years, depending on the desired intensity. The aroma of raclette cheese is inviting and enticing. It has a pleasant and characteristic cheesiness, with underlying notes of toasted nuts and a touch of sweetness. When melted, the cheese releases an irresistible aroma that fills the air, setting the stage for a truly mouthwatering experience.
Different flavors of Raclette
While the traditional flavors of Raclette cheese typically showcase the natural characteristics of the cheese, there are variations and flavored options available that can add an extra dimension to your raclette experience: Smoked Raclette, Pepper Raclette, Truffle Raclette, and Wild Garlic Raclette.
How Raclette cheese is made
Raclette cheese is exclusively made there using raw cow's milk and traditional methods. It holds the prestigious AOP "Appellation d'Origine Protégée”, or “Protected Designation of Origin” designation. To create its distinctive flavor, high-quality milk is used, preferably sourced from grass-fed cows. Specific bacterial strains are employed to generate lactic acid and secondary flavors. Unlike Emmental, raclette does not undergo propionic acid fermentation, resulting in minimal or no small holes in the cheese. The cheese is shaped into wheels, immersed in a salt brine, and coated with a mixture of yeast and coryneform bacteria. The wheels are then aged in cellars on red pine benches for a period of three to six months. During this time, the cheese is regularly washed and turned to facilitate the development of a moist rind. The wooden shelves contribute to the aging process, fostering the desired flavors and textures of the cheese.
French and Swiss Raclette
Raclette cheese is adored across France, Switzerland, and various other parts of the world. In France, it is known as Raclette de Savoie, while Switzerland is celebrated for its Raclette du Valais. Each region brings its own touch to the cheese, resulting in subtle variations in flavor and production methods. Globally, raclette cheese has gained immense popularity for its melting qualities, making it a favorite choice for cozy gatherings and indulgent meals.
Uses of Raclette
Raclette cheese exhibits excellent melting properties as its fat content remains intact without separating or pooling as grease. This characteristic makes it a perfect choice for raclette dinners, cheese fondue, and any dish that calls for melted cheese. It can be used to create delightful gratins and casseroles, elevate the taste of grilled cheese sandwiches, and add a creamy touch to pasta and egg dishes. Its ability to melt smoothly and evenly enhances the texture and flavor of these dishes, making them even more indulgent and enjoyable.
You can eat the rind
The rind of Raclette cheese is entirely edible. The rind adds flavor and texture to the cheese and can be enjoyed along with the inner paste.
To properly store Raclette cheese in the refrigerator, wrap it in waxed or parchment paper. This packaging method allows for some airflow while preventing the cheese odor from permeating the refrigerator. If any mold develops on the cheese, carefully cut around the affected area without touching the mold with your knife. Raclette cheese can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.
Our Raclette d'Hiver
Looking for a ready-to-serve Raclette board for a winter (or summer) Raclette evening? Our Raclette d'Hiver Board is an ideal option! You can choose between a board composed of: the original raclette cheese only (nature); a combination of different flavors of raclette (which also includes some raclette nature); and Truffle raclette cheese only.
Raclette cheese, with its luxurious texture, distinct flavor, and captivating aroma, has captivated cheese enthusiasts across the globe. Whether you prefer the French or Swiss variety, or choose to explore different types, raclette cheese promises a culinary journey filled with warmth and indulgence. So, gather your friends and family, ignite the raclette grill, and embark on a cheesy adventure that will leave you craving for more.