Saint-Nectaire is produced in the town of the same name, in the department of Puy-de-Dôme, from pasteurised or unpasteurised cows’ milk. It is a semi-hard cheese with a washed rind and is matured for 8 weeks, during which time it is twice washed in brine and aged on rye straw.. The milk used comes mainly from the Holstein and Montbéliarde and sometimes Salers breeds.
The AOC and AOP cheese is circular in shape, around 21 cm in diameter and 5 cm in height, and weighs around 1.7 kg. There is a smaller version called Petit Saint-Nectaire, measuring 13 cm in diameter, and weighing around 600 g.
Having a grey/brown rind, with white, yellow or red patches, the interior of the cheese creamy in appearance with occasional residual holes. It has a silky texture with soft acidity, and its flavour is similar to that of Reblochon, with hints of hazelnut and mushrooms, due to the aromatic flora where the cheese matures.
The ‘tomme’ is cut into small cubes and pressed into the circular mould by hand. After pressing, the cheese is salted and pressed for around 24 hours, turning around midway through. The mould is discarded and the cheese is dried over a period of 3 days. The majority of Saint-Nectaires are transported to a professional ‘affineur’ for the final 6 weeks maturation. This is cut short if it is decided that the flavour and scent are not developing sufficiently.
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