1,000 Years of Artisanal Cheesmaking

In the Cheesemaking Facility

The Fruitière, at the heart of each village

Checking the curds

  • Comté dairy farmers deliver their milk to the cheesemaking facility, or fruitière, where it is transformed into Comté cheese. Usually it is owned by the farmers and organized as a cooperative. It is often situated at the heart of the village. These cooperatives have been the nexus of village organization for over eight centuries. Their values of solidarity and sharing have been preserved, as have the small-scale production techniques and artisanal traditions which make Comté a great cheese.
  • There are about 140 fruitières distributed across the Jura Massif. On average, each fruitière has 17 members, or local farms, that are located within an 8-mile radius. The fruitières receive milk every day from the farms. An unchanging ritual then takes place. The milk is partly skimmed then poured into large copper vats to be warmed. The cheesemaker adds a few centiliters of natural starter and rennet, which create curds. With the aid of a curd-slicer, the curds are cut into tiny white grains, which are then stirred and heated to 130˚F. The contents are poured into Comté molds, and the remaining liquid, or whey, is pressed out.
  • A few hours later, the mold is opened to reveal a new wheel of cheese that is white and elastic. This young cheese will be aged for a few weeks in the fruitière’s small cellar, before being sent to one of the region’s affineurs, who are in charge of aging and marketing the wheels.