If you are a soft French cheese lover, you have probably enjoyed the creamy and nutty flavour of Camembert and Brie. Come with a bloomy rind, these cheeses are made with Cow’s milk and have a soft-ripened body. Camembert and Brie are interchangeable in a wide range of recipes due to the many similarities they share, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t have any differences. There are subtle differences that set them apart. In this Camembert vs. brie guide, you learn about how two cheeses are different, their history, their uses and how to store them. So next time you are deciding between Brie vs. camembert cheese at the store, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Camembert?
Camembert is Cow’s milk cheese which is soft and creamy with a slightly runny interior. It comes with an edible bloomy rind. This white cheese originated in Normandy, a Northern France region. Its flavour can be described as earthy, garlicky, mushroomy, nutty, eggy and grassy. You can find this cheese of Normandy in speciality stores and well-stocked supermarkets.
What Is Brie?
Brie is a soft cheese made with Cow’s milk. It is also made with goat milk. Like Camembert, it is slightly runny and has a bloomy and edible rind. This soft-ripened cheese originated in the Île-de-France. The flavour of Brie is buttery, fruity and earthy with age. It has a creamy texture and an earthy aroma. Brie is readily available and reasonably priced.
History of the two Cheeses
Whilst these two cheeses are traditional cheeses, but they find their roots in different times. Camembert is the most recent creation, while the recipe of Brie first appeared in the 8th century. The earlier mention of Camembert appeared in 1791.
Although Camembert was listed in the bloomy rind cheese category in the 18th century compared to Brie, it managed to win the hearts of cheese lovers across France. Due to its popularity, Camembert became the first French cheese to be distributed across the country.
What's the difference?
If you are wondering Camembert vs. Brie what is the difference, here is the answers.
Both are made with cow’s milk, though Brie has more fat content than Camembert. This is because of the cream added to Brie which gives it a creamier texture and higher milk fat content. Brie has a triple-cream version, which is exceptionally creamy, delicious and smooth.
Level of Creaminess
The body of both cheeses is quite similar, although Camembert is not denser compared to Brie. Moreover, Brie and Camembert have different levels of fat. Brie has around 60% fat content, while Camembert has 45% fat content. When these two soft French cheeses mature, they will have soft runny interiors. Ad Brie is denser than Camembert, so it takes more time to ripen.
Smell and taste:
Brie smells buttery with a light buttery flavour. On the other hand, camembert cheese comes with an earthy and mushroomy or hay scent. Unlike Brie’s buttery flavour with a salty finish, Camembert has an umami and intensely savoury flavour.
You may not notice the difference in size between both kinds of cheese until you make a conscious effort to compare them. Brie has a much larger surface compared to Camembert, with a diameter between 23 and 43. It is usually sold as a large wheel or as a slice. On the other hand, camembert is not much larger and is 12 centimetres in diameter. It is often sold as the wheel.
Brie contains higher cream content. And as a result of the addition of cream, Brie tends to have a milder yellow centre. The centre of Camembert is deeper yellow. An aged version of Camembert will have runny inside and become oozy when the penicillium roqueforti works its magic over time. Similarly, the much-ripened Brie oozes a pale-yellow cheese. However, its overripened version will be too watery. Brie’s centre is very firm to touch when it is too young.
How do they differ in Taste?
The flavour profiles of these two pasteurized milk cheeses are similar. They are typically described as tasting buttery, nutty, earthy and barnyard-y, like mushroomy. They both differ in taste subtly, but Camembert has an earthy, deeper and rich flavour, while Brie is buttery and creamy in taste due to its higher creamy content.
The terroir and size have an effect on their Texture. Brie is creamier with around 60% fat content, whereas Camembert is slightly firm with low-fat content. They do taste different. Camembert has more distinct earthy notes of mushroom, wet hay and even truffle. On the other hand, Brie has a buttery and lighter savoury flavour with fruity and mushroomy notes.
How do they differ in Texture?
The Texture of Brie is creamier and softer compared to Camembert. Their textures are similar, although Brie is a bit oozy, and Camembert is denser. The only difference in their Texture is the cream that is added to the Brie, giving it a creamier Texture and a high percentage of fat content.
Uses for Both
When it comes to Brie and Camembert, think beyond crumbled hard cheeses. There are endless options when it comes to these bloomy-rind cheeses on your menu. Here are the uses of Brie and Camembert:
Uses of Brie
Brie is a great addition to a cheeseboard and pairs well with nuts, fruits, crackers and baguette slices. The baked Brie is served with fruit and bread. You can bake it alone or wrapped in pastry.
Melted slices of Brie are enjoyed in grilled cheese sandwiches, gratins, sauces, Paninis, casseroles and on pizza. When Brie is exposed to heat, it becomes too oozy. So it tends not to work well on pizza.
Uses of Camembert:
Camembert is a welcome addition to an antipasto board and cheese platter. The options are endless when you want to introduce them on your menu. It pairs well with nuts, fruits, crackers and baguette slices. The baked version of Camembert has a slightly stronger flavour than baked Brie.
It works really well in baked dishes, and its melted slices can be best enjoyed in grilled cheese sandwiches, gratins, Panini, and casseroles. Chefs around the world bake it whole and serve it with toasted cashews, honey and bread. As Camembert has a lower fat content percentage than Brie, it holds its shape well when used as a pizza topping.
Storage for both
Camembert is a soft cheese, so refrigerate it in its original packaging. Remove it from the refrigerator when you are ready to use it and allow about 60 minutes for the cheese to come to room temperature for the best Texture and flavour. Wrap it in wax paper or original packing after opening, and then tightly wrap it in foil. You can keep it in a wrap or foil for two weeks.
Don’t forget to inspect the cheese before eating it after storage. Its disc should feel plump, and the rind should look white and fresh in its box. Don’t use it if it has a withered Texture or is wet and slimy. Also, look out for its brown spots before eating.
You can also freeze it for up to three months to extend its shelf life.
To freeze, wrap the wedge of Camembert in foil or plastic wrap and then store it zipper bag. Allow it to defrost overnight in the fridge before using it within two days. The consistency of Camembert may be affected when you freeze it, so use it in cooked dishes.
Brie is much-loved buttery cheese, but it is more challenging to store it than semi-soft or hard cheeses. Like Camembert, you should keep it in the fridge. Its original packaging is perfectly fine until you are not ready for it. Once you open its packaging, the most important thing is to keep leftover cheese well-wrapped. It may shorten its shelf life if you don’t store it properly.
You can keep an opened package fresh by storing it in the fridge vegetable drawer. However, you need to store it in its original packaging than plastic wrap. Brie is a soft cheese, which means it has more moisture than hard cheese, and its shelf life is not long. However, if you store it using the right procedure, it is possible to extend its shelf life.
It can last up to 2 months in the fridge when stored properly. After opening, store it in its original package or wrap it in wax paper or parchment paper. As it is best served at room temperature, thus take it out of the fridge about half an hour before serving.
Allow it to defrost overnight in the fridge before using. Frozen brie cheese is best suited to cooked dishes.
Brie can be substituted with other semi-soft, buttery and soft cheeses with a bloomy rind like Brillat-Savarin, Camembert, Mt Tam and Saint-André cheese.
Like Brie, Camembert may also be substituted with soft-ripened cheeses, creamy and buttery cheeses with bloomy rinds like Mt Tam, Saint-André, and Brillat-Savarin cheese.
There you have it. We hope you have understood the difference between Brie and Camembert, and now you can make an informed choice next time you choose a bloomy-rind soft cheese at the local store.
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