It is considered that Livarot was created towards the end of the Middle Ages. It was, at the time, a farm cheese quite similar to Camembert or Pont-l’Evêque. All cheese from Lower Normandy were called “Angelots” (cherubs), then "Augelots”, in reference to the Pays d’Auge.
The name Livarot comes from a small town located near Lisieux, a town which housed one of the largest local markets where cheese was sold. In 1693, intendant Pomereu de la Brestesche wrote on the extraordinary fruitfulness of the grasslands of Pays d'Auge and mentioned that Livarot was regularly eaten in Paris.
The farmer's wives used the milk to make butter, and the remaining skimmed milk was used for cheese making, since cheese offered the opportunity to be able to be stored for up to four to six months. In order to avoid the low fat Livarot to go flat during refining, it was wrapped with willow strips, then with bullrush, a type of reed. Since it was full of protein it was eaten by farm workers, then by the workers of the blooming industries. Morière declared in the 19th century: "It is, in a way, the meat that the poor add to their piece of bread”.
Livarot was mainly sold unrefined on markets, or to refiners, who salted and refined the cheese. In 1877, there were about 200 refiners in the area of Livarot and Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives. The birth of railways explains the spectacular development of Norman cheese and especially Livarot, which was the cheese most produced in Normandy at the time.
In the 20th century, farmers' wives were replaced by craft industry, which offered a direct outlet for milk and could transform larger volumes of it.
Livarot can be enjoyed all year long. It shall be picked mildly refined in order to accommodate all tastes or more refined for those who enjoy full flavors.
It is a flat cylinder with plane and parallel surfaces, a straight or slightly convex side and sharp edges. Its rind is wrinkled, orange colored, salmon pink, reddish or brown. It is gritty, slightly humid and sticky to the touch, and can be slightly blooming. Its yellow and regular paste, where it is refined, shows small holes called in French "ouvertures" (openings).
The cheese must be soft, which means it will return to its original shape after its rind has been slightly pressed with a finger. Its paste is elastic and creamy, neither sticky nor runny.
Its scent is strong thanks to complex volatile compounds.
Its taste is straightforward and powerful, as well as slightly salted. It is very aromatic, and floral, animal (hey, stable and leather), sulphurous (cabbage, garlic) and smoked (charcuterie – cooked pork meats) flavors can be detected in it.
It shall ideally be stored in a cellar, wrapped in a damp cloth or a sealed box. Take it out of the fridge and remove it from its packaging one hour before serving. Savor it with or without its rind.
Outside the traditional cheese tray on which it will bring a powerful touch, it can also be enjoyed as an afternoon snack with gingerbread and fruit, at the aperitif on grilled toast or in recipes where cooking will tone down its powerful taste and liberate its flavor…
What to drink with it ?
It is generally advised to marry cheese and drinks from the same region: Livarot and PDO Cider or Calvados from the Pays d’Auge. For the adventurous, Livarot may be tried with PDO Martinique rum!
Unlike the traditional view that red wine shall be served with cheese, most of cheese is served best with white wine: Meursault and other Chardonnay, Bourgogne Aligoté, Sauternes, Chablis, Pinot gris from Alsace or Gewürztraminer late harvest wines.
Red wine fans will pick fruity reds: a Loire Valley wine such as Chinon, or a Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux - Médoc, Pomerol, Saint-Émilion - or maybe a Bourgogne such as Gevrey-Chambertin.
Teetotallers will enjoy it with apple juice or pear juice from Normandy, or an aromatic type of coffee.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)(ES). Protected designation of origińe (PDO) stands for a product for which the principal steps for production are done following a well-established technique within the same geographical area, which gives the product its characteristics. Year of registration 1996
294 - 340 kcal per 100 gr.
20 - 22.5 gr. per 100 gr.
20.7 gr. per 100 gr.
4.82 gr. per 100 gr.
1.9 gr. per 100 gr.
13.4 gr. per 100 gr.
48.5 gr. per 100 gr.
654 mg. ( – 26% )*
115 mg. ( + 31% )*
19.7 mg. ( – 44% )*
744 mg. ( – 8% )*
454 mg. ( – 9% )*
11 mcg. ( – 84% )*
0.37 mg. ( – 63% )*
0.05 mg. ( – 50% )*
8.72 mcg. ( – 44% )*
5.57 mg. ( + 39% )*
210 mcg. ( – 27% )*
10 mcg. ( – 75% )*
0.3 mg. ( 0% )*
0.1 mg. per 100 gr.
0.2 mg. per 100 gr.
0.06 mg. ( – 40% )*
16 mcg. ( – 16% )*
1.7 mcg. ( + 21% )*
0.7 mg. ( 0% )*
0.6 mg. ( + 20% )*
*(the difference from the average value)
5,7 - Individual visits per month (average)
169 - All individual visits
24 08 2016 - Date of publication of this article
22 12 2016 - Date of last edit