Made from pasteurized or unpasteurized cow's milk
Colour: golden yellow
Flavour: meaty, mild, pungent
Aroma: mild, pungent, strong
Synonyms: monk cheese, trappist cheese, monastery
In medieval times monks and nuns developed products to nourish themselves and sell them to sustain the monasteries. Since most of them raised their cows, goats and sheep, cheese was the obvious natural bi-product. Today, very few monasteries make traditional monastic cheeses, as most of them are now manufactured by companies that are not related to monks. These handmade cheeses made at the hands of a religious order or mere imitation are known as monastery, trappist or monk cheeses.
Monastic cheeses are typically made in Belgium, France and Switzerland. But they are also made at monasteries in Canada and the US. Most of them, though not always, were soft or semi-soft cow's milk cheeses that are washed or rubbed with brine or alcohol. The flavours are pungent, whereas the factory imitations tend to be quite mild and bland. Some monasteries have also started making gouda, cheddar, smoked cheese, blue cheese and flavoured cheese.