Camembert is a soft cows’ milk cheese with a furry white rind speckled with beige, and a creamy, pale interior which becomes increasingly yellow as the cheese matures. The best examples are usually made from raw milk, but most mass-produced camemberts are now pasteurised.
When fully ripe, camembert has a pungent, strongly-flavoured and runny interior somewhat similar to the milder brie. Unlike brie, which is produced in large flat wheels, camembert is made in individual cheeses about 11cm/4.5in in diameter.
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The very best camembert, made in the traditional way, will be labelled Camembert de Normandie appellation d’origine contrôlée au lait cru, which means it has been made from unpasteurised milk in a particular region of northern France. Good camembert is also made in south-west England.
Camembert becomes increasingly soft as it matures, and should be springy to the touch when ripe. It’s available year-round, but AOC Camembert is considered to be at its best from March to October.
Unripe camembert should not be refrigerated, as this will disrupt the maturing process: keep it in a cool place for a few days before consuming.