Origin and spread
Of the eastern French cheeses, Munster most clearly reflects the generous and warm side of this part of the country.
The Munster originally comes from the Fechttal in the Vallée de Munster in the Vosges. The valley was so named after the monastery was founded by the Irish and later Italian Benedictine monks who had been resident since 668. The monks of the monastery invented cheese to use the excess milk and feed the first farmers in the area. It is also said that farmers settled around the monastery and moved their cows to the high pastures, an unforested and grassy landscape in the area, in order to enable improved dairy farming and thus higher cheese production.
In the records of 850 we read of a regular grazing in this part of the Vosges, where the main cheese-making sites were located on the eastern slopes of the mountains at approximately 1000 to 1400 meters. Traditionally, dairy farmers set out on May 25th to take their cows to the high pastures.
Thanks to the upwelling, the cheese also reached the Lorraine side of the Vosges. The farmers there paid the Duke of Lorraine a day's production of cheese as a fee for using the mountain pastures. There, in the town of Gérardmer (called Géromé in the dialect), a trading center later developed for the Alsatian Munster and the Lorraine Géromé.
The cheese received the AOC seal under the double name Munster - Géromé. Today the soft cheese with the washed rind is called "Munster" in Alsace and "Géromé" in Lorraine.
To this day, the cheese is made using the same traditional method. The cheese from the farmer is called Munster fermier . The low-skimmed milk, rich in aromas from the Vosges pastures - bentgrass, lady's mantle, fennel, wood cranesbill and many others - is gently heated and lactic acid bacteria and rennet are added.
The curds are cut into small pieces and scooped into the mold where they drain for about 20 hours. Then the cheese is taken out, bathed in brine and taken to the cellar. It rests there on hordes for at least two to three weeks. It is washed every other day with a mixture of lukewarm water and red cultures. This gives it its orange rind, which hides a smooth, creamy dough. Its strong smell matches its taste. Once you've tasted it once, you won't soon forget it.
Of course, Munster is increasingly being produced in larger cheese dairies and dairies (Munster laitier) . Place of production and maturation must be stated on the label. The milk can be pasteurized whole milk or raw milk from Vosges cattle.
Munster is one of the most popular cheeses in France and is now the sixth most produced cheese in the country. Around 6,500 tons of Munster are produced every year.