Brie cheese is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese popular in many countries. It’s a versatile cheese that can be eaten alone or used in various recipes. However, it can be challenging to select the right one with so many different types and brands of Brie cheese available. Choosing a good Brie cheese depends on several factors, including the type, texture, and aroma. Considering these factors when selecting your Brie cheese is important to ensure you get the best flavour and quality.
This guide will walk you through some key factors to remember when selecting a good Brie cheese.
So, whether you’re a cheese enthusiast or a beginner, this guide will help you pick the perfect Brie cheese for your taste buds.
What is Brie Cheese?
Brie cheese is a soft-ripened cheese with a white, edible rind made from cow’s milk. It originates from the French region of Brie. It is known for its creamy and smooth texture, with a slightly nutty and tangy flavour. Brie cheese has a pale yellow interior and a bloomy, edible rind that is often white. It has a mild flavour with hints of butter and mushroom. It is usually served as a table cheese or used in cooking, such as sandwiches, omelets, baked dishes, and recipes that call for creamy cheese. Brie pairs well with fruits, crackers, nuts, and wine, making it a popular choice for cheese platters, entertaining and snacks. While most Brie cheese is made using traditional methods, there are also variations made with goat or sheep milk, as well as flavoured options with herbs, spices, and fruit. Brie is typically aged for four to six weeks and is available in various styles, ranging from mild to pungent.
The French version of Brie differs from the one sold in the US.
The authentic French Brie is not sterilized and has a complex flavour when it turns slightly brown. If the cheese is pure white, it is not matured yet. However, the Brie that is exported is stabilized and never matures. This makes it last longer and prevents it from getting bacteria.
How do I purchase Brie?
To purchase Brie, the first step would be to identify the type of Brie you want. Brie cheese has several variations. After identifying the type of cheese you want, you can visit your local grocery store, supermarket, or specialty cheese shop. Brie cheese is commonly available in most stores’ cheese or dairy sections. Look for a well-stocked and reputable cheese section, as they are more likely to have a variety of Brie options. You can also buy Brie online from various retailers.
When purchasing Brie, check the expiration date or best-before date to ensure the cheese is fresh. Make sure the cheese is within its recommended shelf life. Examine the available Brie cheese selections. Look for packages adequately labelled with the name “Brie” and any additional information, such as the country of origin.
Brie is usually purchased either in a full wheel or as a wheel segment. It comes as either a 1- or 2-kilogram wheel and is usually packed in a wooden box. Purchase Brie rounds that are no more than 1 inch thick. Thicker rounds will be overripe on the edges and underripe in the centre.
Assess the appearance of the cheese. Ensure the Brie cheese has a creamy, pale yellow colour and a smooth rind. Avoid any packages with visible damage or signs of mould. Consider the ripeness of the cheese. Brie cheese can vary in ripeness, from young and firm to ripe and gooey. Choose based on your preference and intended use. For a softer and more mature flavour, select a ripe Brie. Selecting a Brie with a soft texture and mild aroma is also recommended for the best experience.
If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask the store staff or cheesemonger for guidance or recommendations.
Once you’ve selected, proceed to checkout and enjoy your Brie cheese at home. For an elevated flavour profile, you can pair Brie with bread or crackers, fresh fruits, nuts, and wine.
What are the varieties of Brie cheese?
Brie cheese is a soft cow’s milk cheese that originated in France. While Brie cheese traditionally refers to the classic French version, there are a few notable varieties worth mentioning:
This is the original and most well-known variety of Brie cheese. It is made in France following specific production methods. It has a creamy texture, mild taste, and soft, bloomy rind.
This term refers to farmstead Brie, produced directly on the farm using milk from the farm’s cows. It is often considered to be of excellent quality due to the small-scale, artisanal production methods.
Made from pasteurized cow’s milk and vegetarian rennet, this Brie is suitable for vegetarians.
Brie de Meaux
Brie de Meaux is a specific AOC-protected variety of Brie made in the Meaux region of France. This Brie has a more potent and distinct flavour than other varieties. It is considered one of the finest and most traditional forms of Brie. Brie de Meaux is famous and has been enjoyed by royals and wealthy people.
Brie Noir (Black Brie)
Black Brie is a super-aged version of regular Brie. Locals from the Brie region used to wrap imperfect Brie in newspaper and let them dry in the attic to make it. Regular Brie is aged for five to ten weeks, while black Brie takes up to two years to develop its dark colour and crumbly texture. It has a black rind and a more complex flavour.
Brie de Melun
Brie de Melu is a type of cheese made from cow’s milk in certain regions of France. It’s a soft, flat cheese that comes in regular and black versions. It’s been protected by AOC status since 1980.
Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, and has a white rind and a soft, creamy interior.
Double Cream Brie
Similar to traditional Brie, but with a higher fat content. It is made from cow’s milk and has around 60-75% butterfat content. It is creamier and richer than regular Brie, with a luscious, indulgent texture.
Triple Cream Brie (also known as Brie de Luxe or extra creamy Brie)
Richer and creamier than traditional Brie due to the addition of extra cream. Triple cream Brie (or Fromage triple-crème), also made from cow’s milk, has an even higher butterfat content, typically between 75-85%. This makes it even creamier and richer than double-cream Brie. Triple cream Brie melts in your mouth with a luxurious and velvety texture.
Overall, Brie cheese is a versatile and delicious cheese that can be enjoyed in many different ways, from simple cheese and crackers to gourmet dishes.
These are just a few examples of Brie cheese varieties, each offering subtle differences in flavour, texture, and production methods. Nowadays, there are different versions of Brie cheese available all over the world. You can find plain Brie, herbed Brie, double and triple Brie, and Brie made from different types of milk. Exploring different varieties allows you to experience the unique characteristics that each one has to offer.
What is the difference between double cream and triple cream Brie?
The difference between double cream and triple cream Brie lies in their fat content, resulting in variations in creaminess and richness. This difference in fat content gives triple cream Brie a richer, creamier texture and flavour than double cream Brie.
Between double or triple, which Brie should I choose?
Double and triple cream Brie varieties are incredibly decadent and prized for their creamy consistency. However, triple cream Brie tends to be even more indulgent due to its higher fat content. It’s a matter of personal preference as to which one you prefer. Still, both options offer a deliciously creamy Brie experience.
Triple cream Brie is made by adding extra cream to the curd during the cheese-making process, while double cream Brie uses a standard amount of cream. The extra cream in triple cream Brie makes the cheese a bit softer and creamier, giving it a slightly sweeter flavour.
In summary, triple cream Brie is a decadent version of Brie that is richer, creamier, and more indulgent than its double cream counterpart.
Note: While “triple-cream” may sound ultra decadent, these rich, buttery cheeses are not as fattening as you might think. Fat content in cheese is measured in parts per dry matter, and since so much of soft cheese is actually water weight, the fat solids are significantly less than in hard cheese, like Parmesan.
Triple-cream Brie is actually less fattening than the same weight of an aged Gruyère due entirely to moisture content.
To spreading room-temperature Brie
To spreading room-temperature Brie, Triple-cream cheese is recommended for a buttery taste and creamier texture. Look for wheels labelled “triple-cream” for the gooiest, meltiest Brie.
For baked Brie
If the cheese is heated, remember that butterfat melts at a relatively low temperature (90 to 95°F/32 to 35°C). Even with the stabilizers in almost all supermarket cheeses, a triple-cream will turn liquid and gooey when heated. After it is baked, it will be too runny when cut open. Make sure not to use triple cream cheese for baked Brie if you want it to hold its shape. Therefore, it’s best to use Double-cream cheese instead.
How do I select a good Brie cheese?
Thankfully, Brie is one of those cheeses that show it is past its prime.
When selecting a good Brie cheese, there are a few key factors to consider:
Look for a Brie cheese with a creamy, pale yellow colour and a soft, smooth rind. Check the rind. A good Brie cheese should have a velvety, white mould rind with no visible cracks or discoloration. The rind should have a whitish colour. Avoid cheeses with cracked or damaged rinds, which might indicate poor quality or improper storage. An overripe Brie has a brownish, gummy rind.
A good Brie cheese should have a pleasant, slightly earthy smell. Smell the cheese to ensure that it has a mild, earthy aroma. The cheese should have a sweet odour. Overripe Brie will smell like ammonia. Avoid cheeses with a strong ammonia-like odour, which could indicate that the cheese is overripe or spoiled. However, a longer-aged variety known as Brie noir or black Brie has a stronger flavour and smell.
If you detect a hint of ammonia, and it is not a Brie noir walk away. The odour is a sure sign the cheese has gone bad.
Brie cheese should be soft and creamy on the inside. This desirable characteristic adds to the cheese’s taste and overall experience. Check the texture of the cheese. It should be soft and creamy with no visible signs of hard or crumbly spots.
When buying Brie, don’t be shy. Pick it up and poke it a bit.
To check if Brie is ripe, gently squeeze its sides. It should not be firm but give a little to show it’s ripe. The top and bottom should still be firm. The outside of the Brie should also feel firm, while the inside should be springy but not watery. If it’s too firm when pressed, it’s underripe; if it feels too soft and runny, it’s overripe.
Taste the cheese to ensure a delicate, buttery flavour with a slightly nutty aftertaste. The flavour intensifies as the cheese ages, so if you prefer a more intense flavour, select a Brie that has been aged for longer.
Ask for help
When in doubt, ask your cheesemonger for recommendations or sample a few different types of Brie to find the one you enjoy the most.
By considering these factors, you will have a better chance of selecting a high-quality Brie cheese. Enjoy your cheese selection!
What’s the difference between Brie and Camembert?
Camembert and Brie are both soft, creamy, and bloomy-rinded French cheeses made from cow’s milk, but they do have some distinct differences:
Camembert originated in the Normandy region of France, while Brie comes from the Brie region, also in France.
Size and Shape
Camembert is typically smaller, typically around 8cm (3″) in diameter, with an average weight of around 8 ounces (250 grams). In contrast, Brie is larger, often up to 40cm (16″) in diameter, and can weigh up to 2 pounds (1 kg).
Camembert is often thicker and denser than Brie. Brie has a thinner profile and a flatter shape, making it spread more easily.
Camembert is typically aged for a shorter period, around three weeks. In contrast, Brie is usually aged for a longer duration, often up to six weeks or more, producing a creamier texture than Camembert.
Flavour and Aroma
Camembert has a slightly stronger and more robust pungent flavour than Brie’s milder taste. Camembert offers earthy and mushroom-like flavours, while Brie tends to have a slightly nutty aftertaste and a creamier buttery flavour. This is because Camembert is made with a different type of mould and has a shorter aging time.
The rind of Camembert is traditionally white and velvety, and it can develop a reddish hue as it matures. Conversely, Brie has a pale white rind that becomes speckled with reddish or brown spots as it ages.
Both cheeses are delicious and versatile and can be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into various dishes.
While there are similarities between the two kinds of cheese, the differences in flavour, size, and aging make for unique characteristics and taste experiences. Ultimately, personal preference will determine which one you enjoy more.
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.
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