May 4, 2008

Making Camembert: A Slideshow

This young Camembert will soon be covered by a thin layer of 
white mold, which the French poetically call, "croûte fleurie."

On the first day of the cheesemaking workshop, we made Camembert while the Cheddar was being pressed.  As you will see in the slideshow, the process for making this soft-ripened cheese does not include several of the steps that Cheddar requires, such as scalding and milling the curd, and pressing the cheese under weights.  

Camembert is an unpressed cheese, its curd drained exclusively by gravity.  A Camembert mold is 4.5 inches tall, and the curd initially fills it to the brim.  After several hours of draining, during which time the cheese is flipped in the mold, the curd settles to about one-third of the height of the mold.   

Jim explained that the drying process of the molded cheese is important in its rind development: blue mold may develop if the Camembert is not dried thoroughly, but the white mold will not form at all if it is too dry.  The rind is actually a product of three distinct microbe populations: yeast, geotricum, and P. candidum.  Full development of the rind takes about two weeks, and the interior of the Camembert will ripen over the following one to two weeks.  Of course, that's a matter of personal preference.  

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