Camembert Recipe Instructions
A Recipe for Making Camembert
This recipe will make 4 Camembert cheeses from 2 gallons of milk but everything can be cut in half to make 2 cheeses or expanded proportionately for a larger volume of milk.
Acidify & Heat Milk
Calcium chloride, if being used, can be added to the milk prior to heating.
Begin by heating the milk to 90°F (32°C). Do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If heating directly on the stove make, do so slowly and stir while heating.
Once the milk is at 90°F the culture amount indicated above can be added along with the ripening cultures. To prevent the powder from caking and sinking in clumps, sprinkle the powder over the surface of the milk and then allow about 2 minutes for the powder to re-hydrate before stirring it in. The milk should ripen for about 30 minutes before adding the rennet.
Coagulate with Rennet
A small amount of rennet is then added to begin the initial coagulation in a short period of time (15-20 min) but allow the final firming of the curd to continue for a much longer period of time (90 minutes or more from rennet addition).
This will result in a curd that tends to hold the moisture and fat better due to the stronger protein matrix.
Add about 1/4 tsp (1.25ml) of single strength liquid rennet.
The milk now needs to sit quiet for 90 minutes while the culture works and the rennet coagulates the curd. You will notice the milk beginning to thicken slightly in about 18 minutes, but continue to allow to sit quietly. The thermal mass of this milk should keep it warm during this period. It is OK if the temp drops a few degrees during this time. The long coagulation time here is to loosely hold more of the water in the curd and to allow a moister curd to be transferred to the molds.
Form the Curds
The forms, draining mats, and boards need to be sanitized and prepared for the curd transfer. I do this here by submerging in 145°F water for several minutes. They need to be layed down as shown in the first photo above.
This curd then needs to be handled very carefully with little to no cutting and no cooking and minimal stirring of the final curd before ladling into forms. The transfer was traditionally done without cutting and by ladling curd directly to the molds with a special ladle (La Louche) designed to fit the molds perfectly.
Today, however, many cut the curds mass slightly and stir just enough to release a bit of free whey to make the draining a bit faster.
You can choose your own method but may have to wait awhile for some drainage to fill the final molds if not doing the pre-cut and stir. I really do not see much difference in the results.
The next stage is to allow the whey to drain off as the acid production continues. During this, the forms need to be turned on a regular basis. The way to do this is to place another draining mat and board on top of the form then CAREFULLY and quickly flipping it over. This is best done before the curd settles too far into the mold. The curd mass should drop evenly to the new draining surface with no breakage. This initial turn will set a nice smooth surface for the final cheese.
The turning of the cheese needs to be done several times during the draining process to assure the even drainage of the curd.
By the next morning the cheese should have drained to about 1/3 of its original height and the final acid level should be correct. I do try to keep the curds warm during this period to assure the proper whey drainage. I use an insulated sink here with an insulated pad and board to keep the temperatures good for acid development and drainage (70-75°F). A pan or bottles of warm water would also be good for keeping the temperatures during cooler weather. A simple insulated cooler would also work for this.
At this point, I remove the form and then add the first dose of salt to the surface of each cheese. 1/2 tsp of a medium crystal cheese salt is added and then evenly spread over the surface. This can then be lightly spread to the outside edge as well. There will be less salt on the edge but the next application will also be applied to the edge and even out the distribution. When finished, place back in forms with salt side up and leave until the salt dissolves in the cheese moisture and eventually into the cheese.
In about 4-6 hours flip the cheese and repeat on the other side.
The next morning (day 3) the mold can be removed and the cheese placed on a dry surface to begin the drying phase. This should continue until all surface mositure is done. In humid areas a small fan may be needed. This is best done in a room of 58-65°F and 60-75% moisture. Turning several times during the drying will also help.
NOTE: If the cheese is moved to the aging area before the proper draining/drying phase is complete, excessive moisture will cause defects such as mucor or blue mold and increased protein breakdown at the surface resulting in runny cheese during aging.
Ripening & Surface Mold
Once the cheese surface is dried, it is time to move to the aging area. This should be maintained at 92-95% humidity and 52-56°F. The cheese should be turned once or twice daily at this phase. Failure to do this may result in excess mold growth growing into the mats and tearing the surface on removal.
Initially, the cheese surface may become somewhat slippery/greasy with a smell of ripe fruit. This will be the yeast growth stage.
Within a few days of this you may notice a light surface of white mold and this should dry the surface even further. This will be the secondary growth of Geotrichum.
Finally, about day 9-14 you should note a growth of a white felt-like surface of mold (P.candidum), which will begin to fill in over the next few days and eventually cover the surface with a full coat of fuzz. This can be gently patted down when you turn the cheese.
It is these molds that will produce the enzymes responsible for changing the protein structure of the Camembert.
At this point it is best to slow the final ripening down a bit by moving the cheese to a cooler space at 42-45°F and allowing it to ripen to the desired level for the next several weeks.