|Country of origin||France|
|Source of milk||Cows|
|Pasteurized||By law in the US and Australia, not in most of Europe|
|Aging time||generally 5 to 6 weeks|
|Certification||AOC, 1980, for both Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun|
Brie (//; French: [bʁi]) is a soft cow's milk 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. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, its flavor depending largely upon the ingredients used and its manufacturing environment.
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 (99 °F). The cheese is then cast into molds, sometimes with a traditional perforated ladle called a pelle à brie. The 20 cm (8 in) 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, Penicillium camemberti) or Brevibacterium linens, and aged in a cellar for at least four to five weeks.
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 it is called Brie Noir (French for "black brie"). Around the Île-de-France where brie is made, people enjoy soaking this in café au lait and eating it for breakfast.
A thirty gram serving of brie contains 101 calories (420 kJ) and 8.4 grams of fat, of which 5.2 grams are saturated fat. Brie is a good source of protein; a serving of brie can provide 5 to 6 grams of protein. Brie contains a good amount of both vitamin B12 and vitamin B2.
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. Indeed, although brie is a French cheese, it is possible to obtain Somerset and Wisconsin brie. Despite the variety of bries, the French government officially certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.
Brie de Meaux
Brie de Meaux is an unpasteurised Brie, with an average weight of 2.8 kg for a diameter of 36 to 37 cm. It is manufactured at the town of Meaux in the Brie region on northern France since the 8th century, was originally known as the "King's Cheese", or, after the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses," 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 Parisian basin.
Brie de Melun
This Brie has an average weight of 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb) and a diameter of 27 cm (11 in). It is therefore smaller than Brie de Meaux but is considered to have a stronger flavor and more pungent smell. It is made with unpasteurised milk. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of "Old Brie" Brie or black bried. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980.
French Non AOC Bries
The following French Bries do not have AOC certification: Brie de Montereau, Île-de-France ; Brie de Nangis, Île-de-France ; Brie de Provins, Île-de-France ; Brie noir, Île-de-France ; Brie fermier, Île-de-France ; Brie de Melun bleu ; Brie petit moulé ; Brie laitier ; Coulommiers Île-de-France ;
Brie is usually purchased either in a full wheel or as a wheel segment. Further subdivision 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 faux pas. The white outside of the cheese is completely edible, and many eat brie whole. The cheese is sometimes served slightly melted or baked, in a round lidded ceramic dish, and topped with nuts or fruit.
Comparison to camembert
Camembert is a similar soft cheese, also made from cow's milk. However, there are differences beyond the simple geographical fact that brie originates in the Île-de-France and camembert in Normandy. Brie is produced in large wheels and therefore ripens differently: when sold it typically has been cut from a wheel, and therefore its side is not covered by the rind. Camembert, however, is ripened as a small round cheese and sold as such, so it is fully covered by the rind. This changes the ratio between the rind and the inner part of the cheese.
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Media related to Brie at Wikimedia Commons