Friday, November 5, 2010

Vacherin Mont D'or - A Swiss Delicacy

It just wouldn’t be the holidays at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese with out the famous seasonal cheese, Vacherin Mont D’or.

Vacherin Mont D’or is a surface ripened, wash rind cheese made from the winter milk of the cows that have been brought down from their summer pastures.  It is said that because the cows no longer produced enough milk to make Emmental and Gruyere, farmers decided to make a smaller, younger cheese- Vacherin Mont D’or.  Another legend states that the tradition of Vacherin actually came from the making of Chevrotin, a goat’s cheese. When there was a shortage of goat’s milk to make the Chevrotin, farmers simply turned to using cow’s milk, thus Vacherin Mont D’or was born. 

Vacherin Mont D’or is made both in Switzerland and France.  Both countries fought over the rights of the origin of the cheese, but the right to legally call it “Vacherin Mont D’or” was won by Switzerland in 1981.  The same cheese made in France is officially called “Vacherin Haut-Doubs”, but unofficially is also called Vacherin Mont D’or.  Both countries use the same methods to produce this delectable cheese; however the Swiss version is often made from pasteurized milk in order to please the North American market.  The Swiss version of Vacherin Mont D’or does have the AOC designation, meaning that it is made under the strictest of requirements that govern how the cheese is made, processed, and handled.  The cheese can only be made in one region of Switzerland- the Canton de Vaud.

Vacherin Mont D’or is only available in Switzerland from mid September to early March.  There is even a Vacherin Mont D’or Festival, which includes traditional Swiss foods and entertainment, and even a parade of the herds being brought down from their summer pastures.  In Canada, Vacherin Mont D’or is usually only available during the months of November, December, and sometimes January.  Recently, imported Vacherin Mont D’or has been made from unpasteurized milk. Because of this, the Canadian government requires the cheese to be put in quarantine, and tested to make sure it has no unwanted bacteria.  Unfortunately, Vacherin Mont D’or has a relatively short shelf life, and so quantities that actually make it to store shelves are always very limited.

Upon first glance, Vacherin Mont D’or is actually quite an ugly cheese.  It’s topped with an orange rind that sits on the cheese like an ugly mould.  Often this rind is covered by a thin powdery white mould, similar to the beginnings of the surface mould found on Brie or Camembert.  And while this rind may not be aesthetically pleasing, it’s what’s underneath that is truely a thing of beauty.  Below the inedible rind is a gooey rich golden yellow pate that needs to be scooped up with a spoon.  Even at room temperature (Vacherin Mont D'or should never be eaten cold), this cheese is almost liquid and cannot be cut.  Often, Vacherin Mont D’or is put in the oven, and eaten the same way one eats fondue, by dipping the bread straight into the cheese.  Vacherin Mont D’or is wrapped with a thin piece of Spruce bark, giving the cheese a subtly astringent, foresty flavour that makes Vacherin Mont D’or unique from anything else.

Vacherin makes the perfect gift, and is always a party pleaser.  You are now able to pre-purchase this amazing cheese at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese on Granville Island.  Come down any time and talk to one of our staff.


  1. Vacherin Mont D'or is now available for purchase! Come get it while supplies last!

  2. when will the next shipment of this cheese become available and do you ship to the U.S.?