Cheese

White mould cheese

With their creamy, oozy texture, rich flavour and delicately mottled rinds, white mould cheeses are an irresistible part of many Australian cheese platters!

The process used to achieve that sought after oozy centre, is an intriguing one. White mould cheeses are surface-ripened and as the name suggests, they age from the exterior to the interior of the cheese. When cut, a fully matured cheese is creamy in texture (in comparison with the slightly chalky texture of an immature cheese) and develops wonderfully complex earthy flavours.

Making white mould cheese

  • Rennet, starter culture and white mould (Penicillium candidum) spores are added to the milk.
  • The jelly-like curd is cut into cubes of around 2cms to release some whey.
  • The curds and whey are gently stirred to release more whey.
  • When the curds are of the correct consistency, they are placed in hoops to form their shape. More whey drains off and the curds settle and knit together.
  • The hoops are transferred to a high humidity room and turned 2-4 times in 8 hours.
  • The cheese is salted and placed in temperature and humidity controlled rooms where the Penicillium candidum develops as a fluffy white mould on the outside of the cheese.
  • Mould development takes between 6-10 days, depending on the season. It forms the rind and gives the cheese its wonderful, mushroomy flavours.
  • Once the mould has fully grown it is wrapped. Wrapping is a crucial part of the ripening of the cheese, as it stops the mould from further outward growth. The mould then begins to consume the acidic inside the cheese and this causes the pH level to rise. As the pH level rises and the protein is broken down, the cheese becomes soft!
  • While some brie and camembert may ripen in their wrappers earlier than the general rule of 60 days, maturation will be influenced by the season, the milk quality and how the cheese has been cared for once it is made. As the rind ages, it begins to brown and becomes less robust, a good indication that the cheese is ripe and ready to eat! The centre of the cheese should be shiny and soft but not run too freely once cut.

Stages in ripening white mould cheese

These photos depict the breakdown of the inside of a white mould cheese, from unripe, young and chalky through to fully matured and creamy.

Step 1 - Chalky curd throughout the cheese

Step 2 - three weeks. The curd under the rind has softened, still with a chalky centre.

Step 3 - Minimum six weeks. Chalk line dissapearing, cheese soft throughout.

Selection and storage of white mould cheese

  • Store refrigerated, wrapped in its original wrapper or wrapped in baking paper then loosely in foil or plastic film.
  • Remove from refrigerator at least one hour before service to serve at room temperature.
  • Refer to the use-by date as a guide. While the rind is a good guide to the age of the cheese, taste the cheese prior to service if possible. Appearance alone is sometimes not a true indication of flavour.
  • Under-ripe cheese will have a chalky, white thick centre and taste acidic.
  • Over-ripe cheese will usually have a strong smell of ammonia.
  • A ripe cheese when gently squeezed, will be soft from the edge of the cheese into the middle. Test like you would an avocado.
  • Freezing is not recommended.

Brie

History
Brie was first made in Briard, situated between Paris and Reims in Champagne. The cheese owes its popularity to its closeness to Paris where it was embraced as the local cheese.

Brie was first made in Australia in the 1890s by Julius Brancourt for the local Sydney market. However, it was not until the 1960s that brie became more readily available and today it is one of Australia's most enjoyed styles of cheese.

Characteristics
Traditionally, brie was made in 3kg wheels. Today, however, it is available in a variety of sizes. When fully mature, the rind of the cheese will show slight pigmentation and the interior will be soft and creamy.

Flavour
The flavour of brie will vary depending on the age of the cheese. At its peak of maturity, brie has a deliciously buttery flavour with rich complex mushroom characteristics.

Serving

  • Serve with sweet accompaniments such as cherries, strawberries or dates.
  • Stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines work well with brie.
  • Sweet fruit chutneys can also work well with brie.
  • Drape over summer salads.
  • Drape over a quiche or tart just as it come out of the oven.

For recipes using brie cheese see The Dairy Kitchen.

Camembert

History
The French Revolution in 1789 gave birth to this famous cheese. Legend has it that a priest, escaping persecution, sought refuge with his cousin, Marie Harel, in the region of Camembert. He requested she make a cheese similar to that made in Briard (the area where brie originated).

The development of a railway system enabled camembert to travel easily outside its local region. Its popularity also encouraged other cheesemakers to emulate its style. Camembert was first made in Australia in the 1890s though its popularity grew in the 1960s and 1970s when it began being made by a number of factories.

Characteristics
Traditionally smaller than brie, a camembert varies from 200g to 250g wheels in Australia. However, today camembert is available in various sizes. In Australia, there is usually less butterfat in camembert than brie. Camembert also doesn't develop quite as fully as brie.

As camembert matures, the rind shows signs of pigmentation. When cut a ripened cheese will ooze and the interior cheese will be soft, creamy and shiny.

Flavour
A fully ripened cheese will develop mushroomy flavours that are not quite as pronounced as in brie.

Triple Cream Cheese

History
The first triple cream cheese was made in Normandy at the end of the 19th Century. But it wasn't until after World War One, as a post war luxury, that the popularity of this decadently creamy cheese grew.

Characteristics
Produced similarly to brie and camembert, this cheese is enriched by adding cream to the milk.

In Australia, triple cream cheese has a milk fat that varies from 30% to 37%. Triple cream has a soft and smooth interior and a velvety white rind that shows mould breakdown with age. The shape of triple cream cheeses vary from a round wheel to a log or loaf. This cheese has a wonderfully rich, buttery flavour that is slightly sweet.

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