Sunday, February 10, 2013

French Camembert

The soft cheeses ripened by molds are French in origin. Their manufacture has spread into Germany, Italy and America. Of the series, the most widely known is Camembert, which will be described as typical for the group. Brie, Coulommiers, Robbiola and Ripened Neufch√Ętel belong to this series.

The origin of Camembert is given by French authorities as 1791 in the Commune of Camembert near Vimoutiers in Orne, France. From a very restricted production at first, Camembert-making has spread through the region from Caen in the west to Havre, Rouen and a considerable area east of Paris.

In America Camembert began to be made in one factory about 1900. Several other factories followed by 1906. The difficulties and losses encountered led to the abandonment of these undertakings, until at the outbreak of the European war in 1914 but one factory was making Camembert and that only on an experimental scale. Meanwhile the United States Department of Agriculture and the Storrs Experiment Station had taken up and solved, on an experimental basis, most of the problems arising in these commercial failures. A shortage of product at the outbreak of the war brought about the re-establishment of a series of factories. The product as put on the market indicates that a permanent establishment of Camembert-making is entirely practicable.

Camembert cheese is made from cow's milk either whole or very slightly skimmed; the removal of about 0.5 per cent of fat has been found to be desirable if not actually necessary.

These cheeses are made in sizes 2½ to 4½ inches in diameter and 1¼ to 1½ inches in thickness. They are ripened by the agency of molds and bacteria which form a felt-like rind over their whole surface, ⅟16 to ⅛ of an inch in thickness. This rind may be dry and gray or grayish-green, consisting of a felt-like surface of mold on the outside, below which a harder portion consists of mold embedded in partially dried cheese, or the moldy part may be more or less completely overgrown or displaced by yellowish or reddish slime composed mainly of bacteria. Good cheeses may have either appearance.

Inside the rind, the cheese is softened progressively from the rind toward the center from all sides, so that a fully ripe cheese has no hard sour curd in the center, but is completely softened. No mold should be visible inside the rind, but the moldy rind itself is necessary because the ripening is caused by the enzymes secreted by the organisms of the rind into the cheese. As the curd ripens, the changed portion assumes a slightly deeper color than the unripe curd as a result of chemical changes.

Well-ripened cheeses vary from nearly a fluid texture to the consistency of moderately soft butter. The ripening of Camembert is finished in wooden boxes which protect the cheeses from breaking after they become soft and during the market period.

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