- No milk, no Roquefort! The lactation period runs from December to the end of June - roughly speaking, so we don't make Roquefort all year round. So, no cheese in the cellar after July 15! The milk from the 2 daily milkings, collected once a day, is delivered raw and unskimmed to the production plant.
- After numerous checks and analyses, processing can begin. The milk is heated to between 28 and 34°C and rennet (a milk coagulant) added. The result is curd.
The curds are cut into small cubes, stirred and placed in molds. At this stage, the magic "mushroom" is added, the famous Penicilium roqueforti from isolated strains grown in the cellar microclimate. This is called seeding. Some manufacturers also apply a surface sprinkling.
Good to know: 100 g of Penicilium roqueforti yields 100 tons of Roquefort.
- The loaves are drained for 2 to 3 days without pressing. Then the loaves are dry-salted, first on one side, then on the other.
- This is the last operation carried out in the dairy, but it can also be carried out when the cheese enters the cellar. The drained loaves of curd are pierced right through to encourage the development of Penicilium roqueforti.
- Finally, the cheese loaves are stored in the cellars of the village of Roquefort for the final and most important stage in their transformation: maturing. This takes place in 2 stages:
For a minimum of 14 days, the cheese loaves lie naked on long oak bays in the Roquefort cellars. It's in the special atmosphere of the cellars that the penicilium roqueforti develops, producing the blue veins characteristic of Roquefort..
Afterwards, the maturing process continues with a phase of controlled ripening! The loaves, wrapped by the cabanières in micro-porous tin foil, are stored in temperature-controlled rooms known as caves à fleurines. This is where the expertise of the cellar master comes into play: by opening or closing the fleurines, i.e. by controlling the inflow of damp, cold outside air, he controls the development of the blue in the Roquefort.
- The maturing period can extend well beyond the 3 months required by the PDO. In this way, know-how, time and the special alchemy of the cellars give Roquefort its creaminess and smoothness. For the gourmet, the essential!