French cheesemaker accidentally creates new ‘lockdown’ cheese

Illustration photo: AFP
A French cheesemaker has created a new type of cheese after he forgot about items stored in his cellar during the lockdown.

Lockdown has been difficult for many of France's artisan cheesemakers as sales collapsed when markets, restaurants and workplace canteen throughout the country closed down.

One cheesemaker in the Vosges area was left with many unsold munster cheeses on his hands, so he stored some in the cellar and forgot about them.

But when Lionel Vaxelaire, who owns 25 cows and converts all their milk into the strong-smelling, soft white munster cheese, rediscovered his cheeses, he found something interesting.

They had developed a greenish-grey flowery rind and a completely new flavour.

READ ALSO Why coronavirus is threatening France's artisan cheesemakers

He told local French news: “We left about 60 munsters at the bottom of the cellar. We even forgot about them a bit. After a month of maturing, we tasted one that had new flavours!

“It lies between our Munster and a Camembert type. It's chalky inside, with a greyish, mottled flowery rind. It took all the flora of our whole raw milk and the flora of the cellar.
“This cheese matured on its own for four weeks, unlike Munster, which needs to be washed every day.”
The new cheese has proved a hit on local markets in the Vosges region, so much so that Vaxelaire has put a new batch into the cellar to mature.
It's name is to be le confiné – the locked down.
Le confiné joins a rich tradition as one of France's best-known cheeses was apparently also invented by accident. Legend has it that Roquefort cheese was created after a medieval shepherd boy left his lunch of bread and sheep's milk cheese in a cave when he went off to attempt to romance a local girl.
When he came back, his cheese was covered in blue mould but tasted delicious. History does not recall whether he got the girl.

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