Camembert in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Camembert is a type of French cheese. It is a soft, creamy cheese with a white rind and a soft yellow/cream centre.
Camembert cheese has been granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, which means that only cheeses produced within a certain area of Normandy using unpasteurized milk are allowed to call themselves Camembert.
It is said to have been first produced in 1791 by a Normandy farmer, Marie Harel, who was given the recipe by a priest from Brie who was fleeing the French revolutionaries. Its popularity dates back to the last decade of the 19th century when an engineer, Monsieur Ridel, designed a wooden box in which it could be transported. As a result it became popular throughout France (the same wooden boxes are still used today - check out this site of Camembert labels) and, later, throughout the world.
The future of traditional Camembert is somewhat in doubt folllowing the announcement in June 2007 that two of the main producers of Camembert were giving up their PDO status because they would no longer be making their cheese using unpasteurized milk. Lactalis, the world's biggest cheese maker, and Isigny Saint Mere co-operative said they would be switching to micro-filtered milk in order to meet modern health and safety requirements. Those two producers accounted for 90 per cent of the world's Camembert production and now only five producers continue to make Camembert using unpasteurized milk. Those five were expected to make fewer than 4,000 tons of cheese in 2007.
Camembert is best eaten uncooked and is highly recommended with bread and red wine. it can be cooked but it tends to lose its flavor when heated. It is best eaten at room temperature and it is recommended that you either store it in a cool place or, if you store it in a refrigerator, that you take it out a couple of hours before you intend to eat it.