Petit Suisse Info

What is Petit Suisse?

Although its name says Swiss, Petit Suisse actually originated in Normandy in the mid 1850s.

This tiny, deliciously rich cheese can be hard to find in the USA at local grocery stores. However, if you’re in Europe many people think it’s the standard of rich, decadent flavor.  

Petit Suisse is a few rich mouthfuls of fresh, sweet Fromage Frais, which is essentially Creme Fraiche on steroids. With the final cheese weighing in at about 40%+ butterfat (about 10% fat in milk) it’s understandable why it seems so rich and decadent.

  In France Petit Suisse comes in small 1-2 oz containers and is regularly enjoyed for breakfast or snacks and is often mixed with fresh fruit or a sprinkle of sugar. It can also be used in a variety of dessert recipes.

Petit Suisse may look like a softer and more ‘jiggley’ version of yogurt, however, it couldn’t be more different. One major difference in the make process is the milk is only warmed to 68-72F, much lower than yogurt. But like yogurt the make process is quite easy and requires very little of your time. 

Milk quality is important with this cheese since it doesn’t not have an aging period to develop character so fresh, more flavorful milk is the best choice. Either raw or pasteurized milk and cream can be used.

Mesophilic culture and a few drops of rennet are used to help the ripening along. After warming and adding the culture/rennet simply put the cover on and place it in a safe place for a long ripening time. The rennet has a very tiny role in coagulation as the primary curd development is simply produced by the conversion of lactose to lactic acid.

The following morning the milk should have a thin layer of whey above a very soft curd. At this point the flavor will be less sweet, drifting towards tangy. 

When draining, the curd needs to lose some residual moisture to firm into the final cheese. This is quite similar to draining yogurt into ‘Greek Yogurt’. This step can be a bit messy but is no worse than many other kitchen projects.

The key with draining is being very gentle and creating as much surface area as you can for the initial draining.