The best ways of serving Camembert cheese

From the French region of Normandy, Camembert is a soft, creamy, cheese that is ripened with cow’s milk. The recipe dates back to the 18th century.

Camembert cheese should be stored in the lower part of the refrigerator and eaten within a week of purchase, thus it is best to be served at room temperature, having been put on the table an hour before consumption. Ideally, cheese serving sets are available which includes a special cheese-knife with its pointed end and this is particularly useful for picking up bits of fromage before placing them on biscuits. French cheese should be served on its own plate with plain crackers or a baguette and can be had either as a starter or dessert course.

Pasteurised with an ageing time of at least three weeks, Camembert cheese was originally made with unpasteurised milk and for safety reasons you can only buy that type in Camembert de Normandy itself nowadays!

Warm milk must be inoculated with bacteria to make Camembert coagulate before the curd is cut into cubes, salted and transferred to moulds. By turning the moulds, the whey drains evenly and after two days, a flat cylindrical white piece of cheese will appear. Only at this point is it fresh, hard, crumbly and bland, thus, the three week ripening process produces a distinctive rind with a creamy interior. Camembert cheese must then be wrapped (in paper) and transported in wooden boxes.

Following advice from a Brie priest in the Brittany region, a farmer from Normandy developed a similar cheese in 1791 and now we have Camembert too. The difference is minimal between the two cheeses which look almost the same and taste very similar but they are not identical. 

The main difference between Brie and Camembert is in the way they are made. Both cheeses require cow’s milk in production but Brie – which is produced in large wheels – ripens differently, meaning Brie didn’t have the rind forming on its outer which does affect the taste as well. For the connoisseur this difference is significant, but doesn’t Camembert cheese just taste wonderful when it has melted onto the biscuit?

Camembert raclette

This meal is ideal if you want a traditionally light summer main course from Normandy, so follow these instructions to prepare this classic French dish:

Beat two eggs, stir in some melted butter with breadcrumbs to form a dry mixture and cut the cheese into thick slices, then, prepare some salad with a little cranberry sauce in bowls.

Put a little cheese on raclette dishes, grill under the raclette grill until crispy and serve on the baguettes with salad and sauce, though if you use Brie, it crumbles more.

You do need the equipment to enjoy this meal the way the French like it and it just tastes so wonderful when done properly.