Camembert, France’s most famous cheese from Normandy.
Camembert is a raw cow’s milk cheese with a soft pâte and a white mouldy rind which may have red stains.
The fat content is at least 45%.
Origins of Camembert
This is the most famous cheese of Normandy.
Its name is still associated with that of Marie Harel. In 1791, she created an original cheese by perfecting the production of a local cheese, with the help of a recalcitrant priest from Brie whom she was hiding in her farm in the village of Camembert (Orne département).
Marie Harel’s descendants followed the tradition and developed the production of Camembert which, from the Pays d’Auge, spread throughout the whole of Normandy.
A “Camembert de Normandie” should not be confused with a Camembert “made in Normandy“.
The first one has been an AOC cheese (French label of origin) since 1983 and therefore follows strict requirements, whereas the second is not subject to any rules, except for its production area.
Camembert production area
Its production zone includes the five départements of Normandy: Seine-Maritime, Eure, Calvados, Orne and Manche.
The production of Camembert
Camembert de Normandie is made with raw milk and its production process is very traditional.
The cheese must be put into moulds with a ladle. Five layers are needed to make a Camembert and each layer must be added after 40 minutes to ensure optimum draining of the cheese.
After the salting with dry salt, Camembert de Normandie goes through affinage in the cellar.
The maturing period is at least 21 days including 16 in the geographical area where it is produced.
A fully ripened Camembert de Normandie needs 30 to 35 days.
Everybody knows its packaging: a thin wooden box.
Selection and tasting of Camembert
It generally comes in the form of a flat cylinder of 10.5-11 cm in diameter. It weighs at least 250g.
Camembert is mainly enjoyed at the end of a meal but can also be eaten in canapés, sauces, pies, etc.
Many red wines can be served with it (Beaujolais, Côtes-du-Rhône or Touraine), and it also goes well with a good local cider such as the AOC cider of the Pays d’Auge.