Expertise that is recognised, renowned and protected
Since 1990, Abondance cheese has been protected by the award of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status, which formally guarantees that:
- animal husbandry
- animal feed
- dairy production
- cheese making through to final maturation
are all carried out using traditional methods.
The AOC label defines a production area corresponding to the geographical area in which the farms which produce the milk for the cheese, as well as the cheese-making and maturation facilities, must - as one of the conditions of AOC status - be located.
To guarantee consistent quality, QA procedures are carried out at each stage of the production process by independent certification body CERTIPAQ, which reports to the Institut National de la Qualité et de l'Origine (National Institute of Quality and Origins - INAO).
What is an AOC?
AOC status identifies a traditional or typical product that is, by its nature and character, strongly linked to its geographical area of origin.
AOC labels are the outward expression of an intimate relationship between producer and soil, as reflected by a process that is maintained and sustained by people with the necessary skills and knowledge.
At European level, the AOC label is recognised as being equivalent to the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) label, which protects PDO-labelled products throughout the European Community.
"The AOC label should be managed by all constituent members of the farming community: dairy farmers, cheese producers and maturers.
The latter shall place the business success of the collective at the service of people living in the farming community and its ongoing economic development.
Thus they have a long-term vision for the future as part of the ongoing process of managing their AOC heritage, based on a clear understanding of the importance of land management."
AOC designated area
The production area for Abondance is shown on the map opposite.
The milk is poured into the cauldron where it is then curdled by adding rennet. Copper - a traditional local material - is a perfect heating medium.
Tranche-caillé (wire-framed curd slicer)
Once the curd has formed in the vat, this tool is used to slice it up into curd grains - about the same size as grains of wheat.
In farm-based production, the curd grains are drawn out of the vat and poured into a circular mould with the help of a linen cloth.
This is the circular "mould" that gives the cheese its characteristic shape. It is made out of wood or plastic and curves inwards on the inside, so that the outer rim of the finished Abondance cheese wheel is concave.
The circular moulds, filled with curd grains, are placed in a press where they stand for many hours. This process expresses the last of the buttermilk (whey).
Each cheese must stay at least three months in a ripening room (maturation cave), where it is stored on spruce planks. This particular wood is used because of its many natural qualities (controlling humidity, for example).