Banon

Photo of Banon Cheese
Important Facts
Country of Origin France
Specific Origin Provence (Alpes-de-Haute Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Vaucluse, Drome)
Certification AOC (2003)
Milk Type Goat's milk
Rind Wrapped in chestnut leaves
Texture Creamy, soft, and tender
Flavor Mild and intense, with notes of mushrooms and forest floor
Forms Wrapped in chestnut leaves, tied with raffia
Age 15 days

About Banon Cheese

Banon, an ancient goat cheese, comes wrapped in chestnut leaves and secured with raffia. Noted in medieval festivals under the name "fromage de Banon," it has a legend involving the Roman emperor Romain Antonin Le Pieux, who feared death from overeating it. Originating from Provence's mountainous terrain, Banon is protected by an AOP (AOC) designation. This status mandates specific production criteria, including the use of milk from particular goats and traditional cheesemaking methods. The production zone spans the Alpes-de-Haute Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Vaucluse, and Drome, areas known for their mountains, plateaus, and rocky hillsides.

The making of Banon starts with gathering chestnut leaves in Provence's woods. Only brown leaves, with minimal tannin, are chosen, dried, and stored for wrapping the cheeses. This cheese's production is distinct due to the quick coagulation needed in Provence's dry climate. A significant amount of rennet is added to the milk, quickly curdling it within two hours. The curds are then shaped in flat, round molds, turned regularly for 24 to 48 hours at 68°F (20°C). After demolding and salting, the cheese, now called fresh tomme, ages for five to ten days before wrapping in chestnut leaves.

Before wrapping, the leaves are softened in boiling or vinegar water and dried. Five to eight leaves encase each cheese, tied with raffia. The tannins from the leaves enhance the cheese's flavor and texture, making it creamy, soft, and tender. Aged for fifteen days, Banon should be tender to runny and pairs well with light, whole wheat bread.

Banon is exclusively made from the milk of the chèvre commune provençale, a hardy goat breed thriving in Provence's landscape, rich in white oaks and wild herbs. Despite its significant contribution to Banon's unique taste, this goat breed faces the threat of extinction, casting uncertainty on Banon's future. Since 2003, Banon has held AOC status, a testament to its traditional craftsmanship and regional authenticity. This cheese is celebrated for its creamy texture, transforming into a runny consistency as it matures, and is ideally enjoyed with bread, fruits, and wine.

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