Since Roman times, soft, natural rind cheeses made in what is now the Alpes de Haute-Provence region (shown in red in the image below) of southeastern France have been well known, in fact, an early form of Banon cheese — eaten in gross excess — may have ultimately been responsible for the death of the Emperor Antoninus Pius on the 7th of March 161 AD (Dio 114).
The first mention of a cheese called Banon was in 1270 in the the accounts of the arbitration awards of Banon and Saint-Christol (Banon of Banon AOC). More recently, in 1849, the Abbot Feraud of the Basses Alpes, notes that "many banquets are held at Banon, and the cheese sold there is highly esteemed" (Banon of Banon AOC).
Banon cheese arose in response to small holder farmers in the Alpes de Haute-Provence region of southeastern france needing a way to preserve goat milk from productive summer milkings for wintertime when the goats were dry. By making soft ripened cheeses and allowi...
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...urs before being cut. The curd is then hand ladled into molds (mechanized molding is not allowed). Once the cheese is in the molds, it must be turned at least twice in the first 12 hours. The cheese is demolded and salted after 24 - 28 hours (Le Banon).
The cheese is then aged 5 and 10 days at a minimum temperature of 46 ° F. At the end of this phase, it must present a homogeneous cover with a well established surface flora, a fine creamy white crust, and a soft paste to the heart. The cheeses can be soaked in brandy or grape marc before the cheese is wrapped in the chestnut leaves. Then the cheese is wrapped in 6-7 chestnut leaves. The cheese is refined at least 10 days under leaves at a temperature between 46 and 57 ° F. The relative humidity is above 80%.The conditions of use of chestnut leaves are specified in the technical regulations (Banon of Banon AOC).
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