Oct 23, 2012

Cheeses of the World - Part Fourteen

Camembert is a soft-ripened cheese and much of its flavour depends on the quality of the cow's milk that is used in making it. It's one of the most popular soft French cheeses in the world with a succulent, buttery flavour and a soft white rind that is meant to be eaten with the cheese.

Legend has it that Camembert cheese was first created in 1791 in the town of Camembert in Normandy by Marie Harel during the French Revolution. Because of its somewhat delicate nature, distribution of the cheese was somewhat limited. However, in 1890 a French engineer created a balsa wood box that protected the cheese, but still allowed it to breathe.

When the reputation of the cheese grew and other countries began to produce it, the Normans established the "Syndicat des Fabricants du VĂ©ritable Camembert de Normandie" (Genuine Camembert of Normandy Makers Syndicate) to define what exactly a Normandy Camembert was and how it should be made. In order to be labelled Camembert de Normandie the cheese had to be made in a strictly controlled fashion using raw (unpasteurized) cow's milk produced from the Normandy region.

During World War I Camembert cheese was issued to French troops but it wasn't until after World War II that the first production factories were built to produce Camembert, still using raw milk.

Today some of the production of Camembert is done using automated processing, while other cheese producers use the milk from Norman cows and still produce it the old fashioned way to preserve the quality.

Camembert cheese gets its characteristic flavour from naturally occurring chemicals, such as ammonia, succinic acid and salt. Over-ripe camembert contains an excessive amount of ammonia, which is produced by the same microorganisms required for ripening.

True connoisseurs can taste the difference between Camembert made with pasteurized milk as opposed to Camembert made with unpasteurized milk. Like most cheeses, the taste of Camembert depends on its age. When it's young, after being aged three weeks, it has a milky, sweet taste. As it ages, four to five weeks, the taste becomes stronger.

Camembert should be served at room temperature. Slice it in wedges, like a pie, and serve it with French bread, fruit, or jam and honey and a Riesling wine. It melts well and can be used in appetizers, sandwiches, omelettes, or sauces.


Camembert Cheesecakes
Leek and Camembert Tart
Camembert and Onion Filled Pancakes
Baked Camembert Pasta
Grilled Camembert Sandwich
Camembert Croquettes
Caramelised Camembert With Macadamia Nuts
Pasta With Camembert Cheese
Pears and Camembert
Camembert Fritters

Even if you don't live in France, you can make your own Camembert cheese. The New England Cheese Making Company has some detailed instructions that include a link to a video.

Canadians can buy their Camembert from Springbank Cheese while Americans can purchase it from igourmet.com

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