Brie is a soft cow cheese named after Brie, the
French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to
the modern département of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in
color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold;
very soft and savory with a hint of ammonia.
whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, the flavor quality of
which depends largely upon the ingredients used and its
In the French language, the cheese is distinguished from the
region in France that gave its name by their respective
grammatical genders; the region is feminine: la Brie, but the
cheese Brie is masculine, le Brie.
Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk. The curd
is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating it to a
maximum temperature of 37° C. The cheese is then cast into
molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a "pelle
à brie". The 20 cm mold is filled with several thin layers of
cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is
then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold
(Penicillium candidum or Penicillium camemberti) and/or
Brevibacterium linens, and aged in a cellar for at least four to
If left to mature for longer, typically several months to a
year, the cheese becomes stronger in flavor and taste, the pâte
drier and darker, and the rind also darker and crumbly, and is
called Brie Noir (Fr: black Brie). Around the Île-de-France
where Brie is made, people enjoy soaking this in café au lait
and eating it for breakfast.
Overripe Brie contains an unpleasant excessive amount of ammonia
which is produced by the same microorganisms required for
There are now many varieties of Brie made all over the world,
including plain Brie, herbed varieties, double and triple Brie
and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Despite the
variety of Bries, the French Atlantic government officially
certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name:
Brie de Meaux (shown above) and Brie de Melun.
The Brie de Meaux, manufactured outside of Paris since the 8th
century, was originally known as the "King's Cheese" (aka the
"King of Cheeses" following the French Revolution) and was
enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the
protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in
1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the
Brie is usually purchased either in a full wheel or as a wheel
segment. Further sub-division in most homes is subject to social
conventions that have arisen to ensure that each person
partaking in the cheese receives a roughly equal amount of skin.
Slices are taken along the radius of the cheese rather than
across the point. Removing the more desirable tip from a wedge
of brie is known as "pointing the Brie" and is regarded as a
Comparison to Camembert
Camembert is a similar soft cheese, also made from cow milk.
However, there are differences beyond the simple geographical
fact that Brie originates from the Champagne and Camembert from
Normandy. Brie is produced in large wheels and
thus ripens differently: when sold it typically has been cut
from a wheel, and therefore its side is not covered by the rind;
Camembert, meanwhile, is ripened as a small round cheese and
sold as such, so it is fully covered by rind. This changes the
ratio between the rind and the inner part of the cheese.
Furthermore, Brie contains more fat than