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The Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is the largest goat PDO in France since 1990. This soft raw milk cheese is produced mainly in the department of Indre et Loire but also in the neighbouring communes of Vienne, Indre and Loire et Cher. The production of “Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine” is governed by strict specifications, from the breeding of the goats to the marketing of the product.

Focus on the Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine production of Cloche d’Or

The history of Cloche d’Or

When it started in the 1900s, the company was called “Corne d’Or” and in 1923 it was renamed “Cloche d’Or”. It was first owned by Belgian industrialists and then bought out to process mainly cow’s milk but also goat’s milk. In 1989, Cloche d’Or was sold to Bongrain (now Savencia) and a lot of R&D was undertaken, for example with the production of the first yoghurts with fruit pieces.

In 1994, two employees: Yves Bouhier de Lecluse and Michel Carcaillon took over the company and focused on “goat”. They started with pasteurised milk and soon enough, requests for raw milk cheese emerged, especially for Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. The development was rapid and led to the first extension of the building. Ste-Maure-de-Touraine was mainly sold by the slice, in creameries, so the idea came up to invent and market a self-service “plastic shell”. This is how Cloche d’Or was redeveloped.

It is now a small business with 60 employees. The cheeses are available directly in supermarkets, but also in the Cloche d’Or shop in Pont-de-Ruan (37 260). This is also an opportunity for Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine lovers to discover less standard products, with different maturing processes.

The stages of production of Cloche d’Or

It all starts with the collection of goat’s milk. From January 1 to December 31, Cloche d’Or collects about 10 million litres of milk.

After receiving the milk, they add rennet to it, which separates the cheese phase from the liquid phase. This is followed by the moulding stage. The curd is then recovered with a shovel to avoid any destructuring when deposited in the distributor.

The cheesemakers will first deposit a first layer of curd which will then gradually descend into the moulds. 10 minutes later, the stainless steel tundishes are removed and a new one is installed to allow the curd to reach a depth of 260 mm, the mandatory height required by the Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine PDO specifications. Afterwards, the cheeses will be levelled so that the products are of the same height.

A few hours later, the rye straws are added by hand. Because for a Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, there is an obligation for the product to be crossed by a pyrographed straw. All the straws are necessarily made in the same place: at the Centre d’Aide par le Travail APAJH (association for handicapped adults and young people) in Bridoré, near Loches.

Hectares of rye are harvested, then cut, graded and sterilised. Each rye straw is laser-marked with the name of the producer and the approval number. This is a legal requirement and is also part of the specifications.

The products are then salted and ashed. The colours are more or less different depending on the technique used by the manufacturers. Two techniques are possible: dry salting: salt mixed with dry ash or dry salt used with liquid ash.

At Cloche d’Or, all the stages are carried out manually: moulding, demoulding and maturing.

The history of rye straw

Cédric Carcaillon says: “Legend has it that a farmer had the idea of introducing a strand of straw into the cheese to reduce breakage when removing it from the mould and to give the product consistency. Indeed, in spring, the milk is not very rich, which makes the material more fragile. On the other hand, in winter, the goat produces less milk and it is therefore richer and firmer.

Thanks to this straw, the product becomes unique and provides a differentiation, particularly with the Sainte Maure.

Which stage is most important in the making of Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine ?

For Mr. Carcaillon: “All of them”.

Working with raw milk, the quality of the milk is essential. To avoid any risk of bacteriological contamination or product breakage, the ‘milk production’ part is very important. That is why milk producers are their true partners for high quality milk.

The preparation of the milk and the moulding process are also delicate operations. The curd must not be damaged.

Finally, maturing also requires regular monitoring. The cheesemakers check the products every day, as well as the temperature and humidity levels.

Cédric Carcaillon explains: “There are a lot of parameters to respect. We are IFS (International Featured Standard) certified and often controlled by the PDOs. Twice a year, we are audited, with traceability checks…”.

Cédric Carcaillon’s tasting advice for a Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine

Cédric Carcaillon recommends taking Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine cheese out of the fridge half an hour before tasting. For better preservation, Cloche d’or offers a plastic shell and a wooden board adapted to the product.

A legend also says that you have to start cutting the truncated log by its biggest end or in the middle, otherwise the goat whose milk is the source of the cheese will not give any more. Indeed, the small end contains “little teats” due to the perforation holes for the draining of the serum and for the elders: “to start with this end is to cut the goat’s milk”.

Thank you to Mr Carcaillon and his team for their welcome and trust.

For any information concerning moulds, mould blocks or accessories, do not hesitate to contact us by telephone on 02 47 96 11 50 or by e-mail at the following address :