Muenster Cheese’s Path From France To The US
Muenster cheese is either French or German in origin, depending on who you ask, and that’s because the region that originally produced it — Alsace — has been part of both Germany and France over the course of history, The Kitchen Community explains. Shisler’s Cheese House points out that it was Benedictine monks in the Vosges Mountains of Alsace who first made this style of cheese, and the name comes from the monasteries these monks inhabited. The French style of cheese is typically called Munster, according to Wisconsin Cheese, and it’s made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, using a washed rind process that makes the French version considerably more pungent than the U.S.-made Muenster cheese and also turns the rind orange (per Robust Kitchen). Wisconsin Muenster, by contrast, gets its orange exterior from annato, a natural vegetable dye.
Wisconsin Cheese explains that French immigrants in the late 1800s who settled in Wisconsin began making Muenster, adapting the French process to create the milder version of the cheese we know and love today. While Muenster is delicious on sandwiches, particularly grilled cheeses, it’s also delightful on its own, and Robust Kitchen recommends pairing it with flavorful beers like a porter or black lager.