Brie is an amazing soft cheese. I’m just going to lay that out there. This is not going to be an objective article about brie because it’s sooo good!
What I love about brie is that it is a very soft cheese that has a slightly bitter aftertaste and a complicated slightly salty taste profile. That might not seem all that appetizing to you though if you’re looking for a more sharp flavor profile.
Once you sink your teeth in, and you’ve combined it with the right food pairing ─ I’m talking about French bread here! ─ you might be transported to a different place. With all sorts of positive and reassuring emotions flowing through your mind, it’s as if your tongue is just trying to play this awesome love song to your soul.
I’m waxing a little bit poetic, but that’s exactly the kind of a sensation I had when I first bit into some French bread with brie slathered on it. It is an amazing experience because it’s not just your tongue working magic. It’s also your nose because Brie has a distinct aroma that pairs well with freshly baked bread.
The way it tastes as well as the texture of the bread you put it on makes for a symphony of culinary experiences that is not very easy to forget. Sounds awesome so far, right? Well, let’s dig in.
Please understand that brie makes for a very versatile cheese spread. It’s an old school cheese spread. Just buy a wheel or half a wheel of brie and you’re good to go because you can cut it and apply it to any kind of bread or crackers.
If you become a very big brie fan, and you love everything and anything related to brie to the point that you want to make it your own at home, pay close attention to the following guidance.
I’m not saying that this is the complete step by step approach to making brie cheese at home. This is an overview. I’m not handing out stone tablets from the brie making temple here! 😆 If you’re looking for more detail, you might want to consider a hands-on cheesemaking class instead.
This is just a grand overview of key steps that you need to get started on further research to maximize the quality of the brie you produce.
Let’s face it, it’s very easy to make bad cheese. Making brie is especially sensitive because it is a soft cheese and a lot of people think that just because it’s a soft cheese, it’s relatively easy to make.
No. There’s a lot of precise measurements involved. You also have to know the precise taste profile that you are looking for. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to get disappointed.
Start with the highest quality fresh milk
Great cheese can only come from the freshest highest quality milk. Full stop. There are no two ways about it. This is non-negotiable. If you think you can just use canned milk or powdered milk, think again.
The only person you’re cheating is yourself. You deserve better. Sure, you’re going to have to shell out a few extra dollars. So be it. At the end of the day, it would have been all worth it because you have nice, awesome cheese to sink your teeth into.
Heat the milk just right for pasteurization, but don’t overcook your milk
I can’t emphasize this enough. Brie is very sensitive. So, the key here is to not overcook the milk. A lot of people are so afraid of germs that they go way past the pasteurization point.
What they fail to understand is that they end up flattening the nuance of the taste that the cheese would get from that milk. It’s just not going to happen because the heat has destroyed a lot of the finer points of coagulation. The milk will still coagulate, but your final product won’t be as good as it could be if you carefully measure your temperatures during the process.
So, it’s one thing to be safe and hit that pasteurization point it’s another to go beyond that point. The key is just to hit the pasteurization point, right on the dot. Nothing less, nothing more.
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Use the right brie starter
This is crucial because there are a lot of cheesemaking online shops. You can go to places like Shopify, Amazon, and other places to find all sorts of brie starter kits and brie cheese making kits.
That’s all well and good but pay close attention to the package. What is the description? What exactly are they selling you? A lot are selling certain microbial starters which are good, but could also be mixed with additives or fillers. That’s not good.
Pay close attention to the proper mix. I wish I could tell you that this is all you need to do. And once you’re sure that there are no additives that you’re good to go. It doesn’t work that way though. Different starter cultures produce slightly different tastes and texture profiles.
In the case of brie, you’re typically going to be using one of three starters, either Geo 15, Geo 17, or the Penicillium Candidum strain that gives brie that surface texture we’re all used to.
You’re going to have to experiment to see what you like, but before you know it, you have the right blend that produces just the right kind of brie cheese for you time after time.
So, do that experimentation. You probably will have to make a lot of batches of brie cheese just to get it right. But believe me, it’s worth it.
Separate the whey from the curd
This is pretty straightforward if you’ve ever made any kind of cheese. Once you put the starter in the milk, heat it dry, and then cool it down to room temperature, the milk after some time will start to separate.
The watery stuff is called whey and the solid is called the curd. Next, use the right fine cheesecloth to drain. This is going to be important.
Brie is very soft, so you don’t want to drain all moisture from that ball of cheese. It has to be big enough and liquid enough in the middle for it to turn into brie. You have to use a cheese mold to ensure a nice exterior skin. If you use the right brie cheese starter this skin will develop naturally.
Then cure the brie cheese very carefully. In other words, pay close attention to the temperature of your curing refrigerator or the room at your home that you are curing brie cheese in. Depending on where you live in the continental United States, brie can sometimes cure at room temperature.
If you live in a cold enough area, then you don’t need fancy or special refrigeration equipment to cure your cheese. Just make sure you watch the temperature, so everything is done safely.
This is how you plan for amazing brie cheese. Eat up!