In the medieval times monks and nuns developed products to nourish themselves as well as sell them to sustain the monasteries. Since most of them raised their own cattle of cows, goats and sheep, cheese was the obvious natural bi-product. Today, very less monasteries actually make traditional monastic cheeses as a majority of them are now manufactured by companies unrelated to the monks. These handmade cheeses made at the hands of a religious order or mere its imitation are known as monastery, trappist or monk cheeses. Monastic cheeses are typically made in Belgium, France and Switzerland. But they are also made at monasteries in Canada and the US. Most of them, though not always, were a soft or semi-soft cow's milk cheese washed or rubbed with brine or alcohol. The flavours are pungent, whereas the factory imitations tend to be quite mild and bland. Some monasteries these days have started making cheeses in other varieties such as gouda, cheddar, smoked cheese, blue cheese and flavoured cheese.

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