Brie Cheese

Production, Uses, and Recipes

Brie Cheese

 

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Brie is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese, originating in France and 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 a relatively high sodium content, due to its aging process. It's also a good source of protein and Vitamins A and B-6.

Fast Facts:

Made from: Traditionally cow's milk with goat's milk variations
Origin: France
Texture: Soft , creamy, runny
Rind: Edible, soft, bloomy

What is Brie Cheese?

Brie cheese is an off-white, soft-ripened, cow's milk cheese. 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 made from unpasteurized cow's milk. The flavor of French 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 to the United States, because cheese made with raw milk must be aged for at least 60 days to qualify for U.S. importation, which would render the brie overripe for consumption. France exports a stabilized brie that is available in the U.S. It is a soft-ripened cheese with a creamy-white interior and white rind, that is usually made from cow's milk and sold in rounds. Stabilized French Brie is cut before the cheese is matured, and will not continue to develop, which provides a longer shelf. Its flavor is smooth, buttery, and rich, with a mild aroma that becomes slightly more earthy and fruity with age. Bries made of pasteurized milk are generally milder in flavor than authentic French brie.
Brie is widely popular and produced in other countries and 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 Cheese vs. Camembert Cheese

Brie and Camembert are both soft-ripened cheeses made from cow's milk and have edible white mold rinds. While 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 and 14 inches in diameter, while Camembert rounds measure 5 inches in diameter.

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. In fact, it is this rind that is giving the cheese all the ooey-gooey goodness. This live rind breaks down the fats and proteins of a cheese, causing 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.

How Brie Is Made:

Brie is made from pasteurized or raw cow's milk. Enzymes and rennet are added to help the milk coagulate and curdle. The curd is cut and ladled into round molds, and the whey is drained off. The cheese is salted, and then let to rest for a week to allow the rind to bloom. Brie is usually ripe in about 4 weeks.

Substitutes:

Brie may be substituted with another creamy, soft-ripened cheese with a bloomy rind, such as Camembert, St. 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 wrapped in pastry or without, and served 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. Then take it from the refrigerator and 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 2 weeks.

Before eating, 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 3 months. To freeze, tightly wrap wedges in plastic wrap or foil and store in zip-closed bags, with all of the air compressed, for up to three months. Allow the cheese to defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using within 2 days. The consistency may be slightly affected by freezing, so the brie will be best suited to cooked dishes.

Brie Recipes:

Brie and Camembert are interchangeable in recipes calling for a 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