Camembert is a classic cow’s-milk cheese.
It is a moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cheese.
This chesee is named after the village of Camembert in the Orne département of Normandy in northern France, where it originated.
Camembert was reputedly invented in 1791 by Marie Harel, a farmer from Normandy.
However, the origin of the cheese we know today as camembert is more likely to rest with the beginnings of the industrialisation of the cheese-making process at the end of the 19th century.
In 1890, an engineer, M. Ridel invented the wooden box which was used to carry the cheese and helped to send it for longer distances, in particular to America where it became very popular. These boxes are still used today.
The cheese was famously issued to French troops in the First World War, becoming firmly fixed in the French popular culture as a result.
Before fungi were properly understood, the color of Camembert rind was a matter of chance, most commonly blue-grey, with brown spots.
From the early 20th century onwards the rind has been more commonly pure white, but it was not until the mid-1970s that pure white became standard.
Since 1983, the name “Camembert de Normandie” has been protected as Appellation d’Origine controlée (AOC).
Camembert curd is customarily shaped in disks of 10.2 cm (4 in) in width and 3.2 cm (1.26 in) in thickness and weigh 250 grams (about 9 oz) – by the action of the mold, it ripens within six to eight weeks. The flavour varies from mild to strong as the cheese ripens.
A perfect camembert is generally aged from two to three weeks by its maker, sold, then further aged by a fromager-affineur, a cheese specialist who has his own cellars with low temperatures and controlled levels of high humidity, for another few weeks in order to fully develop its own distinct characteristics.
Typically camembert tends to be sold whole in thin, round, wooden containers made from poplar. Modern variations in packaging include cartons and tin cans, with a ring-pull tab for opening (Camembert in metallic boxes does not exist on the French market).
This chese is a good source of protein, calcium and phosphorus. It also provides a decent range of B vitamins, and it is a good source of vitamin A.
Camembert is exported worldwide and imitated in many countries, though the prototype from Normandy, remains unparalleled.
The cheeses from farms near Vimoutiers are especially prized.
This chesee is, along with brie and roquefort, probably the most famous of the hundreds of cheeses made in France.
Brie is a similar soft cheese, also made from cow’s milk. However, there are differences such as its origin, typical market shape, size, and flavor.
Records show that Marie Harel inventor of Camembert heard about that recipe from priest who came from Brie.
Camembert is said to have inspired Salvador Dalí to create his famous painting, The Persistence of Memory. Its “melting” watches were inspired by the sight of a melting wheel of over-ripe Camembert.