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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Cantal is a French, semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne in the Massif Central. Its history is ancient; indeed, Pliny seems to have mentioned a cheese very similar to Cantal, although the Salers cattle now used to make the cheese were probably not in existence then.

The cheese is characterized by its tall drumlike shape, and can weigh up to 45 kg (99 lb). The flavour, which should be nutty in a mature cheese, is often compared to that of cheddar. Rance (1989) points out that Cantal, coming from a region of volcanic rock, tends to have a metallic flavour, whereas Cheddar, coming from limestone, does not. The rind of Cantal changes colour as it matures, from yellowish up to three months (Cantal jeune) to russet and then to grey streaked with gold after six months (Cantal vieux). The inside is smooth, ivory coloured, and firm.