Saint Marcellin Info

Saint Marcellin

Saint Marcellin is a wonderful little cheese that has been made for several hundred years in the west of France. Its home is a quiet little village of the same name, in the valley of the River Isere, which runs from the Alps down to the Rhone, about 65 miles south of Lyon.

It is a traditional little cheese, originally made with goat milk, but now primarily with cow milk. It is lactic in nature, meaning the milk separation takes place slowly over a longer period of 24 hours, with little to no help from rennet.

Saint Marcellin is typical of many cheeses made daily on the farm, simply with milk cooled to room temperature, and no added heat applied, as well as little curd cutting or stirring. It ages quickly.

Today, the cheese is most often presented in a beautiful little clay dish to keep the very soft ones intact in their travels.

Learn About Saint Marcellin

Traditionally, this cheese was ripened with natural cultures from the farm, along with a native form of mold, known as Geotrichum.

Without the old farm and its ambient culture, we add the acidifying bacteria, as well as the special mold.

Many of you may now be thinking this sounds a lot like Camembert or Brie, with their bloomy rinds, but the Saint Marcellin is very different:

  • Smaller, at about 3 oz.
  • Develops acid very slowly over 24 hours, with little to no help from rennet.
  • Does not develop the fuzzy, mushroomy rind of the camembert/brie, but instead a very thin silky layer specific to this Geotrichum mold.
  • When ripe, they become very soft and usually need the help of small clay dishes to contain themselves.
  • Very creamy when ripe.

The soft Saint-Marcellin is distinguished by a melting texture, while the dry Saint-Marcellin is firm. The rind is hardly noticeable in the mouth, and its interior can be more than creamy, as the picture shows.

The fresh cheeses are tasty enough, but aging in either wet or dry cellars, or a combination of both, produces a very thin silky surface rind, and a soft full-flavored interior.

Different aging allows for two types of Saint-Marcellin:

  • The "soft" Saint-Marcellin, with its rich interior, develops pronounced aromas and a supple and melting texture. A result from a longer ripening.
  • Saint-Marcellin dry, is actually more to the local tradition and is characterized by a firmer dough and better preservation.

    These often are sold in sets of twos and threes, tied together with a piece of raffia.