Soft White Cheese
The most elegant of cheeses, soft white cheeses such as Brie and Camembert really do live up to their reputation. Well-loved for their velvety white rind and buttery golden centre, they always take centre stage on a cheese platter.
The origins and making of...
Although there is much fuss about who first made this type of cheese, they evolved in Northern France, probably first in the region of Brie, and later popularised by a farmer from Camembert.
What makes this style of cheese unique is the use of special cultures, (Penicillium Candidum) which encourage the growth of a downy white bloom on the surface of the cheese. This is what is responsible for maturing the cheese, ripening it from the outside in, softening the centre and developing its wonderful flavour.
The white rind, which may sometimes be tinged with orange, is perfectly edible and adds to the textural enjoyment of the cheese.
Although classic styles of Brie and Camembert were originally made in designated sizes, these days soft white cheeses come in a variety of sizes and shapes for convenience and interest.
Soft white cheeses will vary from really mild and buttery, to rich and savoury with a light mushroomy aroma. The cheesemaker develops the flavour of the different styles of cheese using selected cultures and cheesemaking methods.
The quality of the final cheese will depend on the chosen cheesemaking method. Camembert and Brie hand made in the traditional style will take time to ripen from the outside in and, in doing so will develop delicious complex flavours and surprising textures that are worth waiting for. Other types, made with modern methods, are ready to eat sooner and tend to have a milder flavour profile and consistent texture.