What is the Difference Between Camembert and Brie?

These delicious cheeses certainly have plenty on common.

Both originate in Northern France, have a creamy texture, delicious flavour and a white edible rind. Many people think they are the same but there are subtle differences.

Brie is one of the world’s oldest cheeses. Traditionally Brie would have been 30cm in diameter and weigh in at around 3kg. It should taste of mushrooms and truffles, be slightly sweet, milky and buttery. This cheese often has extra cream added and can’t be beaten for its seductive luscious texture and cream-driven flavour.

Camembert, on the other hand, is much younger not appearing until nearly 1000 years later. The story goes that a young priest from the town of Meaux, fleeing the carnage of the French revolution was offered refuge by Marie Harel, a farmer’s wife.

To repay her kindness the young priest taught her the secrets of the exterior moulds used to ripen Brie. She combined this knowledge with her own cheese-making skills to create a small surface-ripened cheese. Many years later one of her descendants presented this new cheese to Napoleon who was told it was from the village of Camembert and the name stuck!

Camembert would traditionally have been much smaller than Brie weighing around 250gm with a diameter of 10 cm. It ripens more quickly than its larger cousin. Camembert smells slightly of feet and wet straw and has a lingering cooked cauliflower or garlic flavour.

The way the cheeses are produced is also different. To preserve moisture, camembert curds are minimally cut then ladled into moulds over several hours before being lightly pressed this results in a densely textured cheese.

When making Brie the ladle is much shallower and is perforated causing more whey to be drained. 4 or 5 ladles of curd fill moulds which are left to drain overnight without additional weight.

In NZ some exceptional white mould cheeses are being produced. But whether they should be called Brie or Camembert remains a topic which is fiercely debated.

All of this aside, both Brie and Camembert are delicious and we are very proud to have Little River Estate Brie and Camembert, Thorvald sheep milk Camembert and the original Brie de Meaux from France sitting side by side on our shelves.

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