Beautiful Brie

It’s the end of American Cheese Month, but it’s the beginning of holiday season. Brie is a staple for holiday parties, serving it with bread dough, sweet and savory spreads and jellies and toasting it warm, and serving it with crackers, bread and wine. Yum. But would you ever think about making it yourself? I had to give it a try. The Splendid Table had a program on Cheesemaking with Janet Hurst author of the book Homemade Cheese: Recipes for 50 Cheeses from Artisan Cheesemakers. Janet Hurst mentioned that if you made brie, you would be a rock star. Brie is originally from the Seine-et-Marne region in France, pale in color with under a rind of white mold, and yes it is typically eaten. The ingredients are quite simple. When I dropped by The Truffle Cheese Shop to pick up the items to make the brie. I picked up the rennet and the mesophilic culture. The staff member mentioned that it was good to use non-homogenized cow’s milk.

  • 1 gallon pasteurized cow or goat milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic DVI MA culture
  • 1/8 teaspoon Penicillum candidum
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup nonchlorinated water
  • noniodized salt for brine

  The next trip was to locate the penicillium candidum and cheese molds. It took me awhile but I found The Brew Hut which is a brew-pub restaurant and beer making store. Penicillium (above picture on the right) is needed to form the mold on the brie .

Technique is the key to making brie. It took me awhile to gather supplies and figure out how I could best form a disc of brie.

Prepare the molds The classic format is an open-bottom round mold with holes in the sides.

With this type of mold, a mat is be required.  Line the cookie sheet or pie tin with plastic canvas (used for needlework) or regular cheese mats. I bought a square needlepoint mat and trimmed it to a circle to fit inside the aluminum pie plate. Place the mold on top of the mat.

I poked four holes in each corner of the aluminum pie plate. These holes allow the whey to escape.

Heat the milk to 86 degree F; add the culture and Penicillium candidum. Mix in well, stirring top to bottom. Add the rennet solution and stir again, top to bottom. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes or until a clean break is achieved.

After clean break is achieved, cut the curd into 1/2 inch pieces. Allow the curd to rest for 10 minutes.

Ladle the curds into the mold, keeping your hand on the mold, until the curd is “seated.” If you let go, chances are the curd will seep out, and you will lose the curd. Keeping your hand on the mold for a minute or two will prevent this.

When all the mold is full, place another piece of matting and then another aluminum pie plate (with four poked holes) on top of them.

After about 20 minutes, you will flip everything at once. To do this, make sure the pie tins are lined up, put your hands on opposite ends, gather your thoughts and quickly flip the whole thing. The cheese will settle into the molds. Flip the whole thing again two more times waiting 20 minutes between each flip.

As you can see the curds hit the floor with a flip 😦

After three flips, the curds in the molds should stay put for 12-18 hours compacting the curds. I covered them with a towel and set them in a safe shelving in my basement over night.

The next morning, I lifted up the cheese mold and let it air dry a few hours. When the cheese is firm, place it in a fully saturated brine for 20 minutes, then air dry again.

As Janet Hurst describes in her recipe, place the cheese in a 50-55 degree F environment and allow the mold to develop. You will see it starting in 3 to 5 days. Let the mold develop for 7 to 12 days until it entirely covers the cheese. Then wrap the cheese in wax or cheese paper and continue to age it for about 10 more days. It is ready to eat at any point, but will be well-developed at 21 days. Serve this cheese at room temperature.

Patty’s Points:

1. It did take me a while to figure out the equipment so that I could manipulate the flipping technique. The author mentioned cookie sheets but with the small size of my cheese molds the aluminum pie plates worked best. I sat it inside a second, bigger square aluminum pan to catch the whey draining through the pie plates.

2. Needlepoint mats worked very well. I couldn’t wrap my head around the size to choose so I made three trips to the craft store to get the right size.

3. The brine was non-specific so I looked it up on the internet.  One website recommended a 18-23% saltwater brine How to Make a Cheese Salt Brine:

Since I didn’t think I needed a large amount of brine I converted the website recipe to: one gallon of water to 7 oz salt. I used the non-iodized canning salt. It dissolved easily.

4. I forgot to place the cheese in wax paper after 12 days. I did keep it in a plastic container with a loosely capped top in a cooler in the basement. I placed an ice pack in the cooler and changed it daily. The brie aged for about 37 days.

5. I only used a half-gallon of milk because I only had one official brie mold. I used another cylinder to take the overflow of the curds and whey that didn’t fit in the whole mold.

The Fearless Cooking Club (TFCC) members tasted it and said it tasted like brie! Success! Now I am ready to try the second batch. It’ll be time to wow friends and family with the next generation of Brie. Rock Star!