So in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, we did “La Grand Visite” of the caves at Société des Caves de Roquefort, the producers of the Société brand of Roquefort and the largest of the seven Roquefort producers. I’ve never seen so much cheese in all my life!

Roquefort is exclusively made from unpasteurised sheep’s milk from the Lacaune breed, which grazes throughout the département of Aveyron. The mould that gives Roquefort it’s distinctive taste is Penicillium roqueforti, which is found in the soil of the caves around Mount Combalou. The mould is grown on sourdough bread, which is desiccated and the resulting powder is added to the curd, which is distributed into circular moulds.

The wheels of Roquefort are then ripened for 14–24 days on wooden slats in the natural caves, and this is the stage shown in my photo. The Roquefort is then wrapped in foil by female workers known as “cabanières” and matured in a cold cellar for four to nine months. These cellars are naturally ventilated by fissures in the rock known as fleurines.

Roquefort has European recognition under the Appellation d’Origine Protégée, so only cheese matured in the caves around Roquefort-sur-Soulzon can bear the name Roquefort.

The caves are well worth a visit, but be warned: the tour is done entirely in French. Although they do give you a printed A4 handout in English!

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