Friday, 15 July 2011

Artisanal versus Fermier

I've often seen the labels 'artisanal' and 'fermier' on French cheeses, and I suppose like many English consumers thought vaguely that they guaranteed 'authentic' production, and never given it much more thought. In fact, the two labels mean very different things.

'Fermier' is made of milk from a single farm, and the cheese has to be made on the same farm. Obviously, no farmer-cheesemaker is ever going to produce a huge quantity of cheese, so these are cheeses made on a small scale, and if you're after the taste of the terroir, fermier cheeses surely deliver.

'Artisanal' is generally made by small units, up to 10 employees, but the milk can be bought in from any dairy farm. Most often, artisanal producers use cheese from local farms, and sometimes work closely with local farmers. So the link with the terroir is not broken, but it's a bit looser than with fermier cheeses.

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