Brie Cheese

Production, Uses, and Recipes

Brie Cheese

 

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Brie is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese that originated in France and is produced internationally. It has a creamy interior with a soft, bloomy, edible rind of white mold. Brie is traditionally made from cow's milk but can also be made from goat's milk. The cheese is high in fat and rich in calcium with relatively high sodium content. It's also a good source of protein and vitamins A and B-6.

Fast Facts

• Source: Traditionally cow's milk; some varieties use goat's milk
• Origin: France
• Texture: Soft, creamy, runny
• Rind: Edible, soft, bloomy

What Is Brie?

Brie is an off-white, soft-ripened cheese, usually made from cow's milk. It has a bloomy rind of white mold, which is considered to be a delicacy. Brie originated in Seine-et-Marne, France, and is a soft farmhouse cheese. The flavor of brie is rich, buttery, fruity, and increasingly earthy with age. It has a runny, creamy texture and a strong earthy aroma.

Authentic French brie cannot be imported into the United States because it is made with raw milk and would, therefore, need to be aged for at least 60 days to qualify for U.S. importation. Unfortunately, that amount of time would render the brie overripe for consumption. However, France does export a stabilized version of brie that is available in the U.S. It is a soft-ripened cheese with a creamy-white interior and white rind and is usually made from cow's milk and sold in rounds. Stabilized French brie is cut before the cheese has matured, giving it a longer shelf life. The flavor is smooth, buttery, and rich like traditional French brie made from raw milk, and it becomes slightly more earthy and fruity with age. Bries made of pasteurized milk are generally milder in flavor than authentic French brie. They're widely popular and are also produced outside of France, including in the U.S. Domestic and international versions of brie are made of pasteurized whole and skim cow's milk, as well as goat's milk, and are readily available and moderately priced.

Brie vs. Camembert

Brie and Camembert are both soft-ripened cheeses made from cow's milk and have edible white mold rinds. Although their flavors are similar, brie is milder with creamy and buttery notes, while Camembert is deeper in flavor with mushroom notes and a funkier aroma. Brie has a higher milk fat percentage than Camembert, and brie wheels measure 9 or 14 inches in diameter, while Camembert rounds are 5 inches in diameter.

How Brie Is Made

Brie is made from pasteurized or unpasteurized raw cow's milk. Enzymes and rennet are added to help the milk thicken and curdle. The curd is cut and ladled into round molds, and the whey is drained off. The cheese is salted and then left to rest for a week to allow the rind to bloom. Brie is usually ripe in about four weeks.

Substitutes

Brie may be substituted with another creamy, soft-ripened cheese with a bloomy rind, such as Camembert, Saint-André, Brillat-Savarin, or Mt Tam.

Uses

Brie is a welcome addition to a cheeseboard and is best enjoyed served at room temperature accompanied by fruit, nuts, baguette slices, and crackers. Brie also bakes well, either alone or wrapped in pastry; serve it with bread and fruit. Melt slices or chunks of brie in gratins, casseroles, sauces, grilled cheese sandwiches, and panini, or on pizzas and flatbreads.

Storage

Refrigerate brie in its original packaging until you are ready to eat it. Allow about an hour for the cheese to come to room temperature for the best flavor and texture. After opening, wrap in the original wrapping or wax paper and then tightly wrap in plastic wrap or foil for up to two weeks.

Before eating the brie, inspect it. Its rind should look fresh and white, and the disc should feel plump in its container or box. Look out for wet, slimy, or brown spots. 

Brie can also be frozen for up to three months. To freeze, tightly wrap wedges in plastic wrap or foil and store in zip-close bags, with all of the air compressed. Allow the cheese to defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using it within two days. The consistency of the brie may be slightly affected by freezing, so it will be best suited for use in cooked dishes.

Brie Recipes

Brie and Camembert are interchangeable in recipes calling for melted soft-ripened brie-type cheese.
Baked Brie With Amaretto
Grilled Apple and Brie Flatbread
Monte Cristo Sliders With Brie
Brie and Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Nutella Brie Pastry Bites

Can You Eat the Rind?

The answer is a resounding yes. Brie develops a white, soft rind, which is a natural mold growth—a form of penicillin (usually Penicillium candidum). This mold produces brie's characteristic bloomy rind on the exterior of the rounds. The rind is edible, delicious, and considered a delicacy, and it is usually eaten. Sweet and pillowy soft, it complements the cheese well. Some consider discarding the rind as a form of blasphemy. It is the rind that is giving the cheese all its ooey-gooey goodness. The live rind breaks down the fats and proteins in the cheese, bringing about an increasingly creamy to runny texture over time.

Bries made of pasteurized milk are inoculated to grow the mold. The cheese takes anywhere from one to three months to ripen, depending on the size of the flat discs. When properly ripened, the center of the cheese is soft and oozes as if warmed.