Land and History
The land’s imprint
Today, Sainte Maure de Touraine cheese is produced in a limited area corresponding to the old Touraine province. This includes the Indre-et-Loire region, the bordering districts of the Loir-et-Cher, the Indre and several surrounding districts and villages of the Vienne region. This area of valleys and lowlands crossed by the River Loire makes up a uniformed entity with a mild and temperate climate. For centuries the land of Sainte Maure de Touraine has been traditionnally used for goat herding.
In the beginning there was the goat
Legend from the Sainte Maure de Touraine plateau has it that Moorish invasions taking place in the Carolingian ear introduced goat herding. Moreover it was Arab women, integrated into the local population after the defeat of the Sarrasins at Poitiers who had taught them to make this goats milk cheese. This legend may well be backed up by the patronymic link which unites the Moors to the “Saint” eponymous village from which our cheese draws its very name.
Cheesemaking, for a long time the woman’s domain
Sainte Maure de Touraine such as we know it today is the result of empirical improvements brought thoughout the centuries by skilled Touraine lady farmers. The secret of cheesemaking was handed down from grandmother to grand-daughter. In fact, in the last century, the cheesemaking tradition was still considered as a part of housework.
In the 19th century Balzac paid hommage in his own way, to the quality and notoriety of this pinnacle of Touraine gastronomy : “but the best known cheese remains that of Sainte Maure. Shaped in a long cylinder with a straw running through its centre : made with rennet curdled goats milk which has been salted and left to mature, it is kept in the ash of swathes of branches. The cheesemaker keeps it on wooden racks, in a dry place” notes de la Rabouilleuse -1841.