A cheese from the Alsace region of France, and not as you might have guessed, the Munster region of Ireland. Also refered to (mainly by Americans, I believe) as Muenster.

In the VII century, monks came to settle around the monastery which had given its name to the town (Munster, from “monastère”, meaning monastery). They reared cows and used their milk to make cheese. Munster cheese was born, and continues to be made in the area.

The cheese is a semi-soft cheese, with small air bubbles in it and a rind that is usually a sort of orange colour, though the more 'prized' ones are usually red. The flavour of a young Munster is quite bland, one shouldn't however be too dismisive. A properly ripe Munster has a taste which I have seen described as 'quite assertive' and also sharp, neither of which do justice to the full, creamy gorgeousness that envelopes your palette when you eat a ripe Munster. A word of warning though - a ripe Munster has one of the least appetising aromas of any cheese on the planet. It smells like really stale, sweaty feet - and it doesn't just whiff a bit when you get up close - this thing can leave an entire kitchen in serious need of fumigating.

Ideal with a nice fruity, full-bodied red - if you feel like keeping it french, try a beaujolais.

This French cheese comes from the province of Alsace, and was developed in the Middle Ages in the Vosges Mountains near the German border. Münster is so popular in Alsace that is is considered the region's "national" cheese. The cheese is also widely enjoyed in Germany, where large quantities of Münster is produced.

Münster is a washed-rind, surface-ripened cheese, possessing a shiny and smooth reddish rind. The cheese itself has a yellowish colour and a semi-soft texture, with a few tiny, scattered holes. Münster can range in size from 4 by 1 inch to 8 by 2 inches, and comes in a disc shape. The larger varieties of the cheese endure a ripening period of about 3 months, while the smaller cheeses will undergo a shorter ripening period of around 6 weeks.

Münster has a strong, tangy flavour, and a distinctive aroma, which it owes to the bacteria that develops on its surface during ripening. The aroma and the taste both vary with the maturity of the cheese, and Munster is known to get quite rank when over-ripe.

While the German and French varieties of Münster are both quite aromatic, there are also American and Danish variations (Muenster and Mynster, respectively), which are far less pungent.

Münster is recommended for consumption with high-calibre red wines at the end of meals, or as a snack. Its fat content is typically 45 percent.

Although Germany claims Münster as its own, the cheese was actually first created in the 7th century by monks in an Alsace monastery in France. The German name comes from the city of Munster, France and the Latin word "monasterium". It is called "Muenster" in America and "Mynster" in Denmark.

This semisoft cheese is made from unpasteurized cows milk. It has a pale yellow color and small scattered holes. Münster is produced in disks about 12 to 20 cm in diameter and 3 to 5 cm thick. It has a reddish textured rind, which is formed by rubbing the cheese with brine while it matures. This process is usually drawn out over 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the size and desired taste and smell.

Münster has a wide range of taste, depending on the age; the more aged the cheese is, the stronger it is. Generally, it is smooth and mild, with a slight hint of salt and butter. Depending on the country it's made in, however, there are considerable differences. German Münster has a strong odor and is usually served as a table cheese with hors d'oeuvre. French Münster has a sharp flavor and creamy consistency. It is first odorless, but develops a pungent smell over the course of a month, when it is rind-washed. It is often seasoned with anise, fennel, caraway, or cumin. American Münster, mostly made in Wisconsin, is much milder than its German and French counterparts and is largely considered inferior. This variety is widely available in the states; the more traditional varieties can probably be found in a specialized cheese shop.

German Münster goes well with fruit, raw vegetables, rye and whole-grain breads, dried meat, fruity wines such as Zinfandel, and beer. French Münster is best served with a salad course or with a fruit dessert course. American Münster, with its mild flavor, should be coupled with strong tasting foods. It's also useful for cooking since it melts easily (best when shredded).

Nutritional Facts
Serving = 1 oz. (28g)

  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 6.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 27 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.32 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.4 g
  • Calcium: 200 mg


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