Is there a more iconic pairing than the French and their love affair with the creamy, delicious goodness that is cheese? Since the 12th century the French have fallen nose over heels for the smelly stuff, now producing over 1000 varieties and two million tonnes each year.
From creamy Camembert, to Roquefort, Reblochon and Munster, in this guide we go over everything you need to know to navigate the world of French cheese. Incorporating traditional cheese making techniques with modern production, our top 10 ranking has been sniffed out from the likes of Amazon, Waitrose, Tesco and Asda to bring you the best hard and soft cheeses available online in the UK!
In this buying guide, we'll walk you through the defining aspects of French cheese, so you'll be perfectly poised to land on a cheese that's set to please. By considering the variety, region, flavour, consistency, pasteurisation and milk, you're destined to be sitting pretty on your own smelly stockpile of the otherworldly French gooeyness!
A cheese's type is determined first and foremost by its process of production and recipe. This is where the art of cheese-making comes into play, with recipes and methods passed down between generations. Influenced by the amount of water left in the curd, and the pressing and ageing techniques, French cheese comes in a vast array of textures.
Most can be classed as being either soft or hard in consistency. Soft cheese is typically pressed in a light manner for a shorter period of time. So if the creamy way of life has got you by the palate, then Camembert and Brie are bound to hit. On the other hand, hard cheese is pressed harder and for longer. If you prefer hard cheeses like cheddar, then be sure to look out for Comté, Emmental or Gruyère cheese.
With so many producers and varieties of cheese in France, as you can imagine there's plenty of scope and middle-ground where cheese hardness is concerned. This makes for some cheeses that are classed as semi-soft or semi-hard, such as Roquefort and Saint Agur.
In a similar vein to wine, each region of France specialises in producing particular varieties of cheese. Through centuries of perfecting every aspect of production, from animal feed to ageing, each region has harnessed the pungent-power of their particular flavour notes and textures of cheese.
For instance, the region of Rhône-Alpes is world-famous for Raclette, Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme de Savoie. Choosing one of these hard cheeses allows you to bring a little slice of the French Alps heritage home with each chunk of cheese from this region of esteem.
In the same way that Comté cheese is from France-Comté, while Normandie and Brittany are famous for Camembert and Port Salut, knowing where your cheese has come from will give you a greater sense of region-knowing pride.
What cheese represents to you and your particular palate is the best lead into the vastly exciting world of cheese flavourings. Ranging from mild and creamy to rich, intense and tangy, you can bet your last spin of the cheese wheel that there's one out there waiting to lure you in with it's unique flavour.
Certain flavour notes are picked up from the maturing and ageing processes of each cheese. Over time, the cheese enzymes and microbes break down proteins which in turn change a cheese's texture and taste, allowing producers to experiment with maturation in order to create something distinctive and beautiful.
Most cheese is produced using the milk of cows, goats or sheep. The most widely produced and sought after of the three is cheese produced from cow's milk. We can thank cows for giving us many of the world's most adored and beloved French cheeses, like Camembert, Brie and Comté, along with the lesser known, but just as delicious, Munster and Saint-Nectaire.
The next in line is goat's cheese, which is primarily produced as a soft cheese with a tart and earthy tang that sharpens the palate and leaves you pining for more. Sheep's cheese is another one for the ages, with one of France's most adored blue cheeses, 'Roquefort' being produced from full-fat, unpasteurised sheep's milk.
The process of pasteurising milk involves heating it above 71°C for between 15 and 25 seconds. This process stems off bacteria growth and subsequently helps to increase its shelf life.
Most French cheese sold on a large scale has gone through a process of pasteurisation, enabling the cheese to make it across the country and world with minimal chance to spoil. This can increase the shelf life of cheese to somewhere in the 4-6 month range. Although, where soft speciality cheese is concerned, it can be considerably less.
If French cheese is labelled as being 'au lait cru' this will indicate it has been produced with raw, unpasteurised milk. This is thought to maintain the maximum amount of enzymes that aide with digestion. Many cheese-makers prefer working with unpasteurised cheese, believing it to be the real and raw deal, that allows them to manipulate the cheese for more intense flavours.
With all that cheesy fresh knowledge at your disposal, it's time to reveal the top 10 best French cheeses in the UK. With classics like President's Camembert and Saint Agur's Blue, this delectable list has left no cheese wheel unturned. We hope you're ready to revel in all the pungent, smelly goodness that is French cheese!
|Flavour Notes||Herbs, garlic, cream|
|Region||Pays De La Loire|
|Flavour Notes||Mild, creamy|
|Flavour Notes||Blue, tangy, strong|
|Flavour Notes||Sweet, spicy|
|Flavour Notes||Light, soft finish for goat|
|Flavour Notes||Buttery smooth, earthy mushroom|
|Flavour Notes||Rich, creamy|
|Flavour Notes||Soft, creamy, nutty|
|Flavour Notes||Buttery, intense, hints of honey|
|Flavour Notes||Nutty, fruit, rich|
Paxton & Whitfield
Gouda Cheese Shop
Extra Special Vernieres Roquefort Cheese
Herb & Garlic Soft Cheese
Direct From the Jura Mountains, This Artisan Comté Is of the Highest Quality and Taste
Irresistibly Rich and Delicious Soft Cheese From Burgundy
1kg of Raclette to Test Even the Hardiest of Cheese Eaters
Blue Veined Semi-Soft Cheese From the Iconic Saint Agur
Enjoy the Best for Less
Tangy Yet Light Goat's Cheese From the Loire Valley
Matured Sweet and Spicy Comte
Direct From the Vernières Frères Cheese Producers of Southern France
Easy on the Palate Soft and Smooth Cheese
A Simple Cheese to Please Kids and Adults Alike
|Variety||Comté||Camembert style||Raclette||Blue||Camembert||Goat's cheese||Comté||Roquefort||Port Salut||Cream, flavoured|
|Region||Franche-Comté||Burgundy||Rhone-Alpes||Auvergne||Normandy||Loire Valley||Franche-Comté||Occitanie||Pays De La Loire||Normandy|
|Flavour Notes||Nutty, fruit, rich||Buttery, intense, hints of honey||Soft, creamy, nutty||Rich, creamy||Buttery smooth, earthy mushroom||Light, soft finish for goat||Sweet, spicy||Blue, tangy, strong||Mild, creamy||Herbs, garlic, cream|
The French style of producing and cooking food is the industry standard of modern cuisine, with its roots firmly cemented in the recipes of old. Letting a slice of the French way of life into your home will ensure you'll be impressing guests with every memorable dish from now and forever. Below are some more articles to have you preparing French delicacies in no time!
Tucking into some French cheese after a good and proper meal has got to be one of the great food related joys in life. Pair your newfound French cheese with your favourite red wine to wash it all down, and you're well on your way to cheese-induced euphoria. We hope this article was helpful in answering your smelly-merry-messy-cheesy prayers!
Author: Connor Macanally
PC and cameras
Home appliances and electronics
Cosmetics and skincare
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones