First produced by 11th-century monks in the Abondance abbey on the Swiss border, Abondance is a table cheese made from the summer milk of a special breed of brown cows grazing on high alpine meadows, and so precious that it was occasionally used as currency.
Both the Abondance cow breed and the cheese are designated AOP, and there are strict rules about the cheese’s manufacture. Raw milk is heated in a copper cauldron. After the rennet is added and the curds form, they are cut and reheated even hotter, and then cut again, strained and placed into distinctive wheel shaped moulds with concave sides, similar to Beaufort.
Once the cheese has hardened, it is removed, salted, and aged on shelves made of spruce in moist caves for 100 days. It has an orange tinted rind and tiny eyes in the paste and floral nutty taste.
Image by Frédérique Voisin-Demery