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 Neufchâtel 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.
A Plain French Omelet
2 years ago