Comté (or Gruyère de Comté) is a French cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in the Franche-Comté traditional province of eastern France.
The main flavours that delicately linger on the palate are a balance of buttery roasted-nut aromas with a sweet finish. The rind is usually a dusty-brown colour, and the internal paste is a pale creamy yellow. The texture is relatively hard and flexible, and the taste is mild and slightly sweet. In addition its ability to melt easily means Comté goes well with many recipes. For example fondues to Croque Monsieur. However, the cheese pairs well with Rhone reds, a Palo Cortado or off-dry Amontillado sherry from Spain.
The Comté French Cheese is made in discs, each between 40 cm (16 in) and 70 cm (28 in) in diameter, and around 10 cm (4 in) in height. FDor instance, each disc weighs up to 50 kg (110 lb) with an FDM around 45%.
Fresh from the farm, milk is poured into large copper vats where it is gently warmed. Each cheese requires up to 600 litres of milk. Rennet is added, causing the milk to coagulate. The curds are then cut into tiny white grains that are the size of rice or wheat which are then stirred before being heated again for around 30 minutes. The contents are then placed into moulds and the whey is pressed out. After several hours the mould is opened and left to mature in cellars, first for a few weeks at the dairy, and then over several months elsewhere.
The manufacture of Comté has therefore been controlled by AOC regulations since it became one of the first cheeses to receive AOC recognition. This happened in 1958, with full regulations introduced in 1976. Comté has the highest production of all French AOC cheeses, at around 64,000 tonnes annually.