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How Is Brie Made?
Brie is a soft-ripened cheese (also known as a bloomy-rind cheese), which means that the cheese is sprayed with mold (most often P. candidum) during production to age the cheese from the outside in. As the cheese sits, the mold breaks down the cheese to give it its characteristic soft “ooze.” Other similar soft cheeses include Camembert, the blue cheese cambozola, and fromage d’affinois.
To make Brie, cheese makers use the following process, which originated in the Brie region of France:
- Heat cow’s milk (traditional French brie uses raw milk, but United States brie requires milk to be pasteurized)
- Add a bacteria starter and rennet (a coagulant)
- Let the milk sit to allow the curds to separate from the whey
- Pour the curds into a round mold
- Spray the curds with P. candidum
- Let the wheel sit in a cool environment, aging for four to six weeks, which develops the white mold around the outside
What Are the Different Types of Brie?
Brie is a popular cheese, which means that many variations have been made over the years. However, the French government recognizes only two variations as official variations—Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun—and considers all other variations unofficial forms of brie cheese.
- Brie de Meaux. This Brie originated in the town of Meaux and has both a mild taste and mild smell. It is produced in large wheels, usually weighing around six pounds.
- Brie de Melun. This Brie has a stronger flavor and smell than Brie de Meaux. It is produced in smaller wheels, usually around three pounds.
- Brie noir. Brie noir is the result of brie that has been allowed to age longer than the traditional five weeks. It is darker, drier, crumblier, and has a much stronger flavor than younger brie.
- Double- and triple-crème brie. Cheeses labeled as “double-” or “triple-crème” have extra cream added to the mixture before the curds have formed. Double-crème cheese has a butterfat content of at least 60 percent, while triple-creme requires at least 75 percent.
- Herbed brie. While most brie is sold plain, there are also bries that have herbs and ingredients added in during the production process. The most common ingredients are thyme, rosemary, and garlic.
Can You Eat Brie Rind?
One of the most common questions about brie cheese is, “Can you eat the rind?” The answer is yes! The rind is fully edible and can have a distinct and complementary flavor. In addition, cheese lovers often frown upon those who scoop out the creamy cheese and leave the rind on the plate.
4 Different Ways to Enjoy Brie Cheese
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Brie can be eaten in many different ways and used in a variety of different recipes, ranging from appetizers to desserts:
- Included on a cheese plate. Brie is commonly served in small wedges on cheese boards, often accompanied with other cheeses, assorted fruits, a glass of pinot noir, and a cheese knife.
- Served with bread. Due to its creamy texture, brie is incredibly spreadable and is a great choice for eating with slices of a baguette.
- Baked. Baked brie is made by wrapping a wheel of Brie in puff pastry and putting it in the oven. This can be made savory by including prosciutto in the pastry or sweet by including cranberries or pecans.
- Added to sandwiches. Especially in Europe, brie is a common addition to ham or turkey sandwiches.
How to Bake Brie
Serving baked brie is a simple yet impressive way to start off a dinner party or to have as a snack with friends.
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place a whole wheel of brie in some foil. Place in the oven and bake for about 20–25 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and serve immediately alone or with something that can be dipped in the warm, gooey cheese, like sliced bread, crackers, pretzels, apple slices, carrots, or chips.
How to Store Brie Cheese
Due to brie’s creamy texture, it can foster bacteria and does not have a long shelf life. It should be consumed within five days of being cut into, for best flavor and texture. To store brie, seal it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap.
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