October 15, 2015

1958 FRANCE (Grand Est) - Munster cheese at the window of a farm in Vosges

Located in eastern France, near its border with Germany, Vosges are a range of low mountains which forms the western boundary of the Upper Rhine Plain. As in most mountain regions, the animal breeding, is a basic occupation in Vosges. There is even a breed of cattle native of this mountains, exceptionally healthy, fertile and long-lived. Originally a working breed, was transformed into a dairy type. The origin of the breed traces back to the 17th century, when Swedish soldiers brought Scandinavian cattle into the region after the Thirty Years War.

Feed almost exclusively on home grown fodder and kept in the summer on high land, the breed is well -known for the quality of its milk from which the distinct German Munster cheese is made. Named also Munster gérômé, this is a strong tasting, soft cheese, made exclusively from milk originated from an area spreading between the East of the Vosges in Alsace and the West of Lorraine. Back in the 7th century Irish monks settled in what is now called Munster Valley in Alsace, and created Munster Kaes, their goal being to preserve milk and feed their people.

It is made from unpasteurized milk (crude milk), and is formed into flat cylinders, with two common dimensions: little Munster gérômé (7-12cm in diameter), and big Munster gérômé (13-19cm in diameter). Its crust must be rubbed every other day with a solution of rock, salt and water. This helps the growth of bacteria giving a strong flavor and preventing mold to developing. Maturation initially takes place outside for one week, being then transferred in damp cellars for five weeks for the smaller formats (roughly 300g) and up to 2 to 3 months for the larger ones (about 1500g).

The cheese has a fat content of 45% in dry matter, and normally it is sold unwrapped on a straw bed. It has a slick shiny brick-colored or orange rind, with apparent moisture on it. Munster géromé is at its best in the summer and the autumn, when it is made from milk from the haute chaumes (high stubble) of pastures that have already been mowed for midsummer hay in the Vosges mountains. The cheese comes flavoured with cumin, and accompanied with baked potatoes and finely chopped onions. Gewurztraminer or full-bodied red wines nicely complement Munster.

About the stamps
The first stamp was issued in 2002 and depicts a stained glass of Metz Cathedrale.


The second is part of the series The Century Stamp Over - Moments of everyday life, also issued in 2002.All the five stamps have the same face values (0,46 EUR):
• Un superbe été - Saint-Brévin-les-Pins 1955
• Enfant à la fontaine - Avignon
• Pêcheur de sable - Capbreton 1947 - It's on the postcard 1958
• Louise, la repasseuse - La Pommeraye 1950
• Sur les bancs de l'école - Paris 1960 - It's on the postcard 2248

Vosges -Wikipedia
Breeds of Livestock - Vosges Cattle - Department of Animal Science - Oklahoma State University official website
Munster Cheese - Wikipedia
Munster - cheese.com

Sender: Simone
Sent from ??? (??? / France), on 04.10.2015
Photo: Joël Couchouron (extracted from the book Vie à la ferme dans les Hauts)

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