What is a Trappist cheese or monk cheese ?
In the medieval times monks and nuns developed products to nourish themselves as well as sell them to sustain the monasteries. Since most of them raised their own cattle of cows, goats and sheep, cheese was the obvious natural bi-product.
Today, very less monasteries actually make traditional monastic cheeses as a majority of them are now manufactured by companies unrelated to the monks. These handmade cheeses made at the hands of a religious order or mere its imitation are known as monastery, trappist or monk cheeses.
Trappist cheese or monastery-style is a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese with a mild flavor and good melting properties, similar to Edam cheese, that can be sliced and eaten out of hand with fruit or wine, and used in cooking.
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 a soft or semi-soft cow’s milk cheese washed or rubbed with brine or alcohol. The flavours are pungent, whereas the factory imitations tend to be quite mild and bland. Some monasteries these days have started making cheeses in other varieties such as gouda, cheddar, smoked cheese, blue cheese and flavoured cheese.
Characteristics of Trappist Cheese
Trappist cheese is pale yellow with some holes and is usually packaged in red plastic or red paraffin wax. Trappist cheese is said to have originated in 18th-century France with the Roman Catholic monks of the Notre Dame de Port du Salut abbey. The recipe found its way to Hungary through the Bosnian monastery of Maria-Stern, and then to other parts of Europe and the United States. The original French recipe is still manufactured in France under the name of Port-Salut or Saint-Paulin.
Most Trappist monasteries and Trappistine convents are in some type of business that produces goods that are sold to provide income for their homes and needs. Some of these commodities include cheese, as we see here, bread, wine, pastries, clothing and even coffins. But many of the monks, who are not required to take a vow of alcohol abstinence, produce some of the world’s most famous trappist beer.
Le trappiste Brugge is a traditional Belgian Pub and we serve our tradition: trappist beers and trappist cheeses. This is a good reason to visit us when you are in Brugge (Bruges), we can’t wait to serve you a trappist beer ; )