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An unpasteurized cow cheese, the Neufchatel AOP is one of the first cheeses made by monks in Normandy in the 6th century. It’s produced in Haute-Normandy, a humid region. It’s soft, with a bloomy rind, similar to a Camembert. But the Neufchatel AOP is saltier and sharper, with a richer taste, and a coarse, grainy texture. It’s also called Coeur Neufchatel for its heart shape, as coeur is “heart” in French.
The heart shape of this cheese is iconic and might date back to the Hundred Years War. It’s said that the young women of Neufchatel-en-Bray would offer their gallant knights this cheese shaped like a heart— “le Coeur,”’ as a reminder of their home and love. It grew popular in Paris in the 1800s, and in 1969 was given its AOP designation.
Cheeses (except brined ones in jars) should be stored in the crisper or the butter drawer of a refrigerator, not on the shelves themselves. This is to help regulate their temperature and humidity levels—and prevents the formation of mold. Once opened, they should not be kept in their original packaging. Soft cheeses with delicate rinds need to breathe, so they are best placed in glass containers lined with paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Leave the lid open a tiny bit for air to circulate and don’t forget to write up a label with the date you first opened the package. Kindly pay attention to the best before date label when you receive your cheese. Consume prior to date indicated.