food

We finally know how to tell the difference between brie and camembert cheeses.

Christmas lunch can be intimidating. You see the cousin who has a thousand university degrees. The other one who’s doing work with abused children. The auntie who, as far as you can gather, is in charge of a lot of people, and most possibly the entire city.

As you put your game face on to see the family, readying your responses and deflections: “no, I do not have a partner, but how’s your ex?” “Yes, I am still at the same job, how was your trip to South America?” “No, I haven’t got any plans for travel, where’s the wine?”

You can rest assured that you are in control with at least one area of sophistication. Yes, you can tell the difference between cheeses. And not just any cheeses – brie and camembert cheese. The comparison that that has everyone, everywhere stumped. I doubt your sister’s boyfriend who-pretends-to-be-arty-but-really-isn’t won’t be able to do the same.

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Take the victories where you can. Multiple university degrees are one thing. Knowing cheese is something else entirely.

Here’s how you tell the difference. Learn your lines. Have them at the ready. There’ll be no more questions about your finances or relationship status. They’ll all understand: she knows what she’s doing. 

Production

Brie and camembert are made very differently. Understanding the foundations will put you ahead of anyone who can make a lucky guess as to which is which.

Cream is added to brie during the cheese-making process. There is no cream in camembert. This mean brie is 60 per cent milk fat, compared to camembert’s 45 per cent.

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Things called “lactic starters” (that help in the fermentation process) are used in making both brie and camembert. However, camembert uses stronger lactic starters that are added to the cheese mould five times, leading to a stronger flavour. Brie only adds them once, meaning the resulting cheese is milder.

Appearance

This is an easy give-away. Brie is typically taller and smaller than camembert, which has a larger diameter and is usually flatter.

Also, camembert cheese is fitted to a mould that is specifically 250 grams.

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Inner appearance

The colours of the cheese also differ. Brie is typically whitish in colour inside, while camembert is more yellow. If the camembert is very ripe, the inside will also be a little runny.

Smell and taste

Brie has a lighter, more buttery scent than camembert. It’s also more salty. Camembert on the other hand, smells earthy and has a more savoury flavour. According to some experts, camembert smells like mushrooms, or even a barnyard (eww).

Remember: If you smell butter, you’re looking at brie. If you smell mushrooms, it’s camembert.

Affinage

First of all, affinage is the art of ageing cheese gracefully. It also differs between the brie and camembert.

Brie is designed to be consumed immediately after it’s production, camembert, comparatively, is best left for six to eight weeks. With time, it will become more gooey, more flavoursome.

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