Tomme des Pyrenees is a French rustic cheese, usually seen covered in a thin black skin.
It was once made only by small farmers for their own consumption and could be made from three different kinds of milk: cow, goat and ewe. First mentioned in the 12th century, it was eaten by the nobles of St-Girons in Ariège and King Louis VI of France also knew the cheese of the Pyrenees. It was only in the 19th century that the manufacture of the cheese moved to a more professional basis, though still hand-crafted.
A pressed cheese, nowadays made equally from raw or pasteurized cows’ milk. Curdled milk is tossed, cut and put in large moulds. It is drained for 24 hours, then salted and aged in cool, humid cellars, where it is turned by hand every day. An aging period of 21 days minimum is permitted for the black-crusted tomme and 45 days minimum for the gold-covered version. The covering is a seal of paraffin wax. Tomme des Pyrenees is sold in various sizes of cylindrical shape with rounded edges. The small tomme is between 450 g and 1.5 kg (corresponding to the old 1 to 3 livres (pounds) measures) up to 5.5 kg (12 lb). The texture is supple and the taste is creamy and only slightly salty. The colour is normally ivory white, varying to pale yellows. Tomme des Pyrenees is made and aged entirely within the same place as the milk is produced, by local business’ workshops.