Cancoillotte is officially the big cheese in France having become the 1,579th agricultural product in Europe to be awarded PGI status.

The speciality cheese from Franche-Comté is made by melting Metton cheese (from skimmed cow’s milk) with butter and water, resulting in a gooey treat which can be enjoyed hot or cold. It was first made an estimated 2,000 years ago in the department of Haute-Saône.

It took the Association for the Promotion of Cancoillotte seven years to win PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status from the European Commission, a label which guarantees at least part of the production has taken place in Franche-Comté. Association president Didier Humbert said: “This sign of quality will make it possible to make the Cancoillotte better known and strengthen its image outside the borders of Franche-Comté.”

PGI status sets out strict criteria for Cancoillotte, which has been made the same way for centuries, from the milk used to the way it is potted, although individual manufacturers can add their own signature flair, such as garlic, vin jaune or shallots, to the mix.

It is thought its name may come from the 19th-century word coille, which derives from cailler (to curdle). Other theories suggest it dates back much farther and comes from the Latin phrase ‘concoctum lactem’ (made with milk), found in Roman writings relating the capture of Sequania (as the area was then known) in 58 BC. It wasn’t until the 19th century, however, that Cancoillotte really took off and became the much-loved treat it is today.

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