Orval is produced by the monks at the Cistercian Abbey in Orval, located at Villers-devant-Orval in the southern corner of Belgium. The recipe for the cheese originated in the 19th century and was created by Trappist monks at Port-du-Salut in France.
Orval is made from whole cow's milk and delivered directly from the surrounding farms of the Gaume region to the Abbey's cheesemaking facility.
Production includes pasteurization of the milk and the addition of animal rennet for coagulation, after which the curd is cut, the whey drained off and the remaining curds placed in molds to drain further. After pressing, cheeses are placed in a brine solution before being transferred to a maturing room where they are washed with a brine solution and turned regularly to encourage the growth of the bacterium linens mold that has become so synonymous with monastic, washed rind cheeses of this category.
Cheeses are matured for a minimum of three weeks before release.
Flavors of Orval are mild and slightly sweet, overlaid with distinctly aromatic and pungent aromas, which, although present, are not scary. The texture of the cheese is moist and supple and lends itself to cooking, as well as straight forward eating.