The French Like Reblochon, But the FDA Prefers Préféré

There are a lot of cheeses we can’t get in the US, thanks to the FDA’s strict rules on importing raw-milk cheeses. Anything aged fewer than 60 days can’t legally make it into the country, which rules out all name-protected bries and camemberts, as well as a whole slew of soft-ripened, fresh and young cheeses.

One such cheese is a little thing called Reblochon.

A washed-rind cheese that hails from Haute-Savoie, a department within the southeastern region of France named Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Reblochon is technically an Alpine cheese because of its provenance in the Jura mountains.

Like many old cheeses, Reblochon is known for its creation myth. According to legend, the cheese came about in the thirteenth century because of farmers who were trying to avoid paying their full milk taxes to the church and noblemen who controlled their lands.

The farmers would not milk their cows all the way before the inspector arrived to calculate how much they owed, they would pay their taxes based on what they had milked out, and then as soon as the inspector left, they would finish milking the cows. The milk from that second milking would be turned into Reblochon, which the farmers would later eat secretly while they gloated about having pulled one over on the inspector.

The name Reblochon comes from the verb “reblocher,” which in the regional dialect of the Thônes valley means “to pinch a cow’s udder again,” or to milk the cow a second time.

Reblochon is a relatively small cheese as Alpine wheels go, measuring about five inches in diameter, around one inch tall, and weighing eight to ten ounces. It is considered a semihard cheese.

Reblochon is made from the milk of one of three types of cows: Abondance, Montbéliarde, or Tarentaise. It is traditionally a farmstead cheese, made on the farms where it is milked—just like those historical farmers who cheated their tax collectors and thus created a really great cheese—and many Reblochons are still made on farms today. The cheese is also now made by dairy coops and in more industrial dairies.

Importantly, Reblochon is made with raw, whole milk. Because this little cheese, which is molded, pressed, and then brined before and during being ripened in a cellar, is only aged for four to five weeks, it cannot be imported to the US.

The next best thing we can get around these parts is a Reblochon-style cheese named Préféré, which is imported by a French company called Fromi.

Préféré is basically a pasteurized version of Reblochon. The cheese’s terroir will not be as intense as in raw-milk versions of the cheese, however Préféré looks, feels and tastes roughly the same as real Reblochon.

Préféré is a pretty thing, with its orangey-white washed rind and its butter-yellow paste. Small enough that you can buy it by the quarter- or half-wheel without breaking the bank, this cheese is as good for smearing on bread or crackers as it is on a sandwich of good rustic bread, mustard, and ham or turkey, or better yet melted with potatoes, diced bacon, and onions (aka the delicious French-Alpine gratin, Tartiflette).

By itself, the cheese will have a slightly nutty flavor with some bitter notes and a buttery, creamy finish. It might be too strong for people who don’t like “stinky cheese,” but it really isn’t all that stinky.

6 thoughts on “The French Like Reblochon, But the FDA Prefers Préféré

  1. Rene Edmundson says:

    Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and in depth information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. ReaderX says:

    Thank you very much for this particular blog post, as I research potential substitutes for Tartiflette that I might be able to find in Seattle.

    I imagine any substitute might benefit from a slight nudge in the right flavor direction, if one wants to even more closely approximate the original Rablachon. Would you recommend combining with a Prefere with a little bit of shredded gruyere, perhaps, to push the final flavor in the right direction? Or some other cheese adjustment?

    (Lastly, I wish your blog posts were automagically pushed to Twitter so I could follow you there. I did a search for “PhCheese” but that’s an abandoned account.)

    1. Courtney C. Johnson
      CheeseAdmin says:

      Thank you for reading!

      I believe that Prefere is going to be close enough in terms of flavor that you don’t need to combine it with another cheese unless you personally prefer to do so. The main difference between Prefere and Reblochon is pasteurization; Prefere is pasteurized (for the US market) and thus cannot legally be called Reblochon, and Reblochon is made traditionally with raw milk and thus cannot legally be sold in the US. You do miss some of the depth of flavor and terroir of the original thanks to pasteurization killing all of the good bacteria in the milk, but the recipe is essentially the same.

      Right now I have my hands tied between the website, Facebook, and Instagram; I don’t think I could manage another social medium at the moment! Thank you for letting me know that people are still using Twitter, though. I originally decided not to go there because I felt that people were moving away from it and toward more visual platforms. Maybe someday if I have more time, and if more people request it, we’ll give Twitter a shot.

  3. Kathleen Lyons says:

    I love this post. What a great explanation of Reblochon vs. Prèfèrè. You’ve given me another reason to visit Paris.

  4. gilles odic
    gilles odic says:

    Thank you. I just arrived in the US and I am born in the reblochon original valley which was first limited to THONES and the mountains around. It has been extended a little bit since because Reblochon demand is too high. Jura is the only mistake I noted and must be replaced by Savoie. the verb to “rebloch” means exactly what you say. Milk a second time and do it after the controller came in order to avoid or limit tax.
    I will try to find some Préféré and see if a Tartiflette prepared with Préféré is OK.
    If you want to test that cheese do not go to Paris, better go directly to Geneva, cross the border then you will be in Savoie. If you are on diet, just forget.


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