The cheeses loved by the French

And the most popular, the most consumed cheeses in France are….

I have found the list of the most consumed by the French cheeses. Are you curious to find out what our cheese specialists like? Let me present you the top 15 most consumed cheeses in France so you can get an idea where to start when you want to discover the french cheeses. 

The cheeses loved by the French

  1. Emmental.  Also known as “Swiss cheese” is a yellow, medium-hard cheese that comes from Swiss. It has a savory but mild taste. It is the most consumed cheese in France. The French ate over 15000 tons of this cheese in 2018. Why so much? I think I figured it out. Emmental comes in 2 versions. There is grated emmental which is a culinary cheese used on any gratin, vegetable soups, pasta, lasagna, pizzas, quiches and other savory pies. And there is the emmental piece eaten daily in the sandwiches but also as a course in the french meals. This very big cheese with holes is indeed the object of a very diversified consumption in France.

    Emmental
    Photo by Аутор: Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
  2. Camembert. The second popular cheese among the French. In 2018, French people ate 49 776 tons. Camembert is a moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese. It was first made in the late 18th century at Camembert, Normandy, in northern France. Since 1983, the Camembert of Normandy has been awarded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, and since 1996 it has also been called Protected Origin. Camembert is considered as a must-have for everyday life. It can be enjoyed simply with a glass of cider, truffled like brie, breaded or even in the croque monsieur. The flavor is slightly salty, with good aroma of warm milk and a sweet smell of mushroom on the crust. Delice. 

    Camembert
    Photo by france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr
  3. Goat cheese. Very popular among the French. In 2018 they ate 4 610  tonnes of this cheese. Why? Because it is so easy to eat. The goat cheese is creamy and distinct in flavor. It comes in a wide variety of flavors and textures, from soft and spreadable fresh cheese to salty, crumbly aged cheese. It is adapted to many uses of everyday life. The French eat it in tray, in salad, in salty pie … it is the favourite cheese among women.. Although it’s made using the same coagulation and separation process as cheese made from cow’s milk, goat cheese differs in nutrient content. Additionally, goat cheese is digested differently than cow’s milk and is a hypoallergenic alternative for those allergic to cheese made from cow’s milk. This might have increased its popularity. 

    Goat cheese.
    Photo by splendidtable.org
  4. Raclette is actually a Swiss dish, but very popular in the Savoie region of France and among French. In 2018, the French ate 32 878 tons of raclette. The idea of the raclette meal is to heat the cheese and scrap off (from French: racler) the melted part. Raclette is a semi-hard cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 6 kg. The Alpine cow milk based dairy product is most commonly used for melting, but is also consumed as a slice. Raclette is traditionally served in France with white wine, such as the traditional Savoy wine, but Riesling and pinot gris are also common. Local tradition states that other drinks – water, for example – will cause the cheese to harden in the stomach, leading to indigestion. In France, restaurateurs often place a raclette oven directly on the table. In that case, the scraping is to be done by the guests. At homes, many French families have the special raclette machines and use them especially during winter and while having parties with friends. 

    Raclette
    Photo by papillesetpupilles.fr
  5. Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) is another French favourite. They ate 31 865 tons of comte in 2018. This French cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and comes from the Franche-Comté traditional province of eastern France. Comté has the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, at around 64,000 tonnes annually. The cheese is made in discs, each between 40 cm and 70 cm in diameter, and around 10 cm in height. Each disc weighs up to 50 kg. The rind is usually a dusty-brown colour, and the internal paste, is a pale creamy yellow. The texture is relatively hard and flexible, and the taste is mild and slightly sweet, strong. The Comté is elaborated by craftsmen in about 160 fruit trees distributed throughout the PDO zone. This is where producers gather daily raw milk. It is than refined for 4 months minimum. Refining lasts at least 4 months, but is often 8 to 10 months, or even 18 to 24 months. As with wine, the longer the cheese ages, the more tasty but also more expensive it will be..

    Comte
    Photo by Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
  6. Coulommiers  is a soft ripened cheese from Coulommiers in the Seine-et-Marne department of France. Apparently so popular among the French as they ate 30 350 tons of this cheese in 2018. It is made from cow’s milk, and is usually in the shape of a disc with white, bloomy, edible rind. When produced as an artisanal or “farmhouse” cheese from unpasteurised milk, it has some reddish blush in parts of the rind. The period of ripening when made of pasteurised whole milk is about four to six weeks. The fat content is 40 percent. Coulommiers is a lesser-known cousin of Brie, although it has been produced for longer. It is smaller and thicker than Brie and with a nuttier flavour, but otherwise has similar characteristics, with a similar buttery colour.  

    Coulommiers
    Photo by pongcheese.co.uk
  7. Mozzarella is a traditionally southern Italian cheese made from Italian buffalo’s milk by the pasta filata method. Mozzarella received a Traditional Specialities Guaranteed certification from the European Union in 1998. This protection scheme requires that mozzarella sold in the European Union is produced according to a traditional recipe. The TSG certification does not specify the source of the milk, so any type of milk can be used, but it is speculated that it is normally made from whole milk. So it is not really French cheese but loved by the French. In 2018, they ate 29 228 tons of mozzarella. This cheese is generally white but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal’s diet. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day after it is made but can be kept in brine for up to a week or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to six months. Mozzarella is used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Caprese salad. The French love pizza and Caprese salad and so they eat a lot of mozzarella!

    Buffalo mozzarella
    Photo by italianmade.com
  8. Brie is a soft cow’s milk cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated. This cheese is a great symbol of French gastronomy and is loved by the French. They ate 21 855 tons of brie in 2018. Brie is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold. It has a unique taste and is obtained from raw cow’s milk. In addition to Brie, there are its different types: Brie de Meaux, Melun, Coulommiers, Montereau, Nangis which have been crowned with an AOC since 1980. Brie de Melun is a cylinder 27 cm in diameter and 3 cm thick which weighs between 1.5 and 1.8 kg. Brie de Meaux is larger, its diameter is between 36 and 37 cm, but also heavier, from 2.5 to 3 kg. Brie de Coulommiers is 25 cm in diameter and weighs an average of 1.5 kg. Brie de Montereau is the smallest of the family: it weighs only 1 kg for 20 cm in diameter. Brie de Nangis is, for the same size, slightly heavier (1.2 kg).  Brie is a very rich food. It brings on average 330 kcal for 100 g. But it is good for you as it is indeed very well provided with animal protein of excellent quality, essential for the proper functioning of the cells of our body. So don’t feel guilty eating it. 

    Brie
    Photo by epicurious.com
  9. Roquefort.  Another French favorite one. They ate 7 999 tons of this cheese in 2018. It is historically the first cheese to have obtained a PDO! Roquefort is a sheep milk blue cheese from the south of France, and together with Bleu d’Auvergne, Stilton, and Gorgonzola is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses. The cheese is white, tangy, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of green mold. It has the characteristic odor and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid; the green veins provide a sharp tang. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kg , and is about 10 cm thick. Each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 liters of milk to produce. Roquefort is known in France as the king of cheeses, Loved by the man!

    Roquefort
    Photo by Thesupermat — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0
  10. Sheep cheese. So popular in France. In 2018 the French ate over 50000 tons of sheep cheese. It is a very old cheese. Indeed, whether in France or abroad, sheep’s cheese has a history of several centuries. In France, some traces of sheep cheese go back especially to the time of the neolithic. At the time, people considered sheep cheese as white meat. Why ? Because ewe’s milk was very rare and it was necessary to milk about twenty ewes to make a single cheese. The benefits and the riches of this milk were already known at the time. Sheep’s milk is a natural source of protein. It is also a source of calcium. Finally, sheep’s milk is a source of vitamins especially  B and A. It is clearly more caloristic than cow’s milk, however, it contains less fat. Thus, sheep’s milk is much more easily digested than cow’s milk. 

    Sheep cheese.
    Photo by pastoralia.fr
  11. Mascarpone is a cheese of Italian origin. Made from sour milk and then drained, it is neither refined nor fermented. The French eat a lot of this cheese. In 2018, they ate 9 523 tons of mascarpone. This cheese has a smooth texture that is both creamy and consistent, like firm crème fraîche and it has a beautiful ivory color. The mascarpone is sold in jar, which facilitates the preparation. This cheese enriched with fresh cream brings smoothness and softens into cooking and baking. It is often used in desserts, as in tiramisu and added to the whipped cream. It can also serve as a sauce for raw vegetables and eggs. Mascarpone can be used to enhance hot dishes such as gratins, cakes, pies and soups. Very practical and yummy cheese.

    Mascarpone
    Photo by finedininglovers.fr
  12. Parmesan is another French favourite cheese. They ate 8 412 tons of parmesan in 2018. Parmesan comes from Parma, in northern Italy. It can be made from cow’s milk or goat’s milk. It is a semi-fat cheese and the richest in calcium. In addition, it has a very good protein intake. Although rich in fat and sodium, it has its place in a balanced diet. Parmesan is the generic term for grana-type Italian cheese, such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano. These cheeses have the distinction of being made from partially skimmed cow’s milk, which allows a very slow maturation and a long conservation. Some parmesans, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, can be aged from 1 to 4 years. Often marketed as grated, Parmesan is associated with pasta recipes, savory pies, vegetable gratin … It is also appreciated with walnuts, fresh figs and pears. To stay in the Italian gastronomy, it can be accompanied by wine like Chianti or Bardolino.

    parmesan
    Photo by ohmymag.com
  13.  Reblochon. This emblematic Alpine cheese made from raw cow’s milk, owns its success to its perfume and its incomparable creaminess, but also to a recipe that warms all the winter tables, the famous tartiflette. But this is not all, reblochon is also very popular on a cheese plate that can be served with a red or white wine, rather fruity. But where the French felt in love with reblochon is really by eating it mainly in tartiflette. In 2018, they ate 8 106 tons of tartiflette. And what exactly is the Reblochon cheese? It is a soft washed-rind and smear-ripened French cheese made in the Alpine region of Savoy. It has its own Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designation. It comes in two types. It can be green or red. Green means that the cheese comes from the local farmers and therefore it is hand-made on the farm, after each milking with the milk of a single flock. The red means that it is a dairy product that is manufactured in dairy and collected from the milk of several exploitations. After 15 days in the cellar, the Reblochon is packaged and continues to ripen until tasting thanks to a thin slice of spruce on which it is placed. Reblochon represents a very good intake of calcium and it is less fat than Emmental, it is also quite rich in protein and vitamins A, E, B1, B2 and B3. Reblochon is in the form of a flat cylinder 13 to 14 cm in diameter and 3 to 3.5 cm thick. Its weight is between 450 and 550 g. 

    Tartiflette
    Photo by lidl-recettes.fr
  14. Feta is a Greek cheese that has existed since the 8th century BC. From the 1930s, Feta has been exported from Greece to find a new development ground in Western Europe in particular where its production and consumption progressed particularly in the 1960s. Feta is loved by the French who ate 6 355 tons of it in 2018. It is made from goat or sheep’s milk. Its ripening time is about 2 months minimum. Feta is a crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads (e.g. the Greek salad) and pastries. You can accompany the Feta with a white wine like a Chardonnay. With goat’s milk, Feta has a very white color, and a very fresh taste which mingles with the flavors of wild herbs, white wine. With the sheep’s milk, Feta has a texture slightly richer and creamy and the ivory white color. But in each of these versions, a salty aftertaste and a rich flavor has been obtained thanks to the pastures of the mountainous regions of Greece.  

    feta-cheese
    Photo by greekboston.com
  15. Munster. You will be surprised here as I was. This is the most strong-smelling cheese in France yet the French love it. They ate 3 404 tons of Munster in 2018. So as I said, Munster is a strong-smelling soft cheese with a subtle taste, made mainly from milk from the Vosges in Alsace. The Munster cheese is often eaten with cumin or caraway seeds, especially in Paris. In the areas where it is produced, the Munster cheese is not eaten with bread, but often with hot potatoes. In Haute-Alsace, in the Alsatian Jura, it is eaten in salads. The Munster cheese is in the shape of a flat cylinder with a diameter of 13 to 19 cm, a thickness of between 2.4 and 8 cm and a weight of 450g to 6kg. The Appellation d’Origine cheese has developed the “Petits Munsters” which had a diameter of between 7 and 12cm, a thickness of 2 to 6 cm and the weight of 120 grams. The Munster cheese is matured for between 2 and 3 months in a humid cave where it is washed periodically. Exterior appearance of the Munster cheese is glossy, red-brick coloured. Yummy? Smelly! Try yourself!

    Munster
    Photo by pongcheese.co.uk

So did you know those french cheeses? I’m sure you knew some, you might have even tried some but did you expect such a preferences of cheeses by the French people? I was surprised by the 1st position of yellow emental and the popularity of parmesan or mozzarella and feta but again the French, they know what food is good and they go for it! Now, your turn. Bon appetit.

the top 15 most consumed cheeses in France

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I am a Polish girl who felt in love with Lyon from the first sight! Jadorelyon is my way of exploring France, the French way of life, their cuisine, sharing the experience from visiting beautiful places in France. Jadorelyon is my new way of adding some Polish influence into French lives and watching on how they like it...

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