Valençay may be more art than cheese

Valençay just may be more art than cheese. Valençay originated in a French town of the same name. In France, this fine chevre is traditionally made with a coating of vegetable ash. This ash comprise under root vegetables or grape vines. I think it the practice of using the ash began to disguise some mold on cheese, which some people find unattractive. However, the ash also assists in holding moisture in the cheese and changes the cheese’s consistency and texture, firming it a bit.

Edible charcoal is the American substitute for vegetable ash. Try making some without the ash or charcoal and making some with. Go ahead and spray the mold solution and then compare. Both versions will be delicious, but you will note a difference.

Valençay is always made in a pyramid-shaped mold.

A refrigerator for chilling wine (a wine cooler) makes an excellent aging environment for this cheese. If you do not have that option, then you can age it in your home refrigerator.


Pyramid-shaped molds

Spray bottle


  • 1/8 teaspoon Penicillum candidum
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon noniodized salt
  • 1/8 cup non-chlorinated water


  • 1 gallon pasteurized goat or cow milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Mesophilic DVI MA culture
  • 1/8 teaspoon Penicillum candidum
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in ¼ cup cool non-chlorinated water
  • edible charcoal
  • noniodized salt for brine
  1. In an enormous cooking pot, warm the milk to 76°F (24.4°C) and then remove from heat. Sprinkle the culture over the top of the milk; gently stir, making sure the culture is dissolved and well integrated into the milk. Allow this mixture to sit for 45 minutes, so the culture has time to develop.
  2. Add the rennet solution and stir from the bottom of the pot until it is well integrated. Let the milk rest, covered with a cloth. After 20 minutes, test the milk for signs of the clean break.
  3. Once the clean break has been achieved, cut the curd into ½-inch (13-mm) cubes. Allow the curds to rest for 10 minutes.