Camembert/Brie — mold and cheese paper wrapping questions

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  • #5680 Reply

    Hi, I’m new to home cheesemaking, taking classes and making at home occasionally for the past year. My questions regarding Brie/Camembert (3-4″ wide wheels) are about the ripening and aging process…

    1) Often I ash the Brie before aging/ripening and the white mold grows over. The tops and bottoms get a nice thick velvety white layer, but the sides don’t develop as thick or velvety a layer. The black does get completely covered but while all of the wrinkles are covered on top and bottom, you still see some of the wrinkles on the sides and the color is more of a very light dusty gray because the mold is not as velvety there. But I feel that it’s time to wrap in paper because the wheels are otherwise ready and don’t want them to overripen. (For background, after extended draining, they were ripened in an aging box with the top askew in my wine fridge for about 12 days, flipped daily and all parts of the aging box wiped down; moisture in the box seemed pretty perfect each day.)

    a) How do I get more velvety white coverage on the sides of my wheels?

    b) I’ve never done the patting down — is that something that you do each day when you wipe out the box during the ripening?

    2) When you wrap each wheel with cheese paper, then do they sit out in the open in the fridge (vs in the aging box). I’m assuming out in the open (ie, the paper becomes the “box) but I haven’t found anything that clarifies this in any of my books or online anywhere.

    Thanks for your help!

    #5687 Reply
    Tom Moran

    Susan, I have only made Camembert a couple times with varied success but it sounds like you have got a great process and very good results. I wish I could help you with your questions but you are way ahead of me. Good luck.

    #8246 Reply
    Rebecca Yim


    I am new to the cheesemaking process, and am attempting camembert at home. I see that most recipes call for cheese paper, but they cannot be recycled or composted. Is it possible to mature your camembert in a cheese dome instead, once you have the mold going on? That way I can continue to reuse it for many years. I’m just not sure if a cheese dome would do the trick, or if you have other suggestions.

    Thanks so much!

    #8247 Reply
    Susan Bates

    Hi Rebecca,
    I believe that the cheese dome would be problematic because it doesn’t allow for some air flow. You want humidity and some moisture (but not wet) in the cave environment. Essentially, the wrap around the cheese serves as a “mini cave”. It allows the cheese to continue to age but the activity of the molds and cultures are slowed down quite a bit, so it allows it to continue to ripen, but much more slowly than if you’d left it unwrapped. I have since discovered the the answer to my question 2) above is that they sit out in the open in the wine cave after wrapping (not in an aging box, since the wrap is now in lieu of the aging box).

    But I understand and sympathize with your points about the paper itself. I’ve raised this issue before. The paper is made to breathe and it has a film that reduces how much the cheese sticks to it which is important for Camembert, Brie, Valencay, etc. You could try butcher paper (the kind that butchers use — it is slick on the inside) or waxed paper (which is actually a great way to wrap cheese that you keep in your fridge). But not having tried either of those myself for aging, I can’t attest to whether it will be successful or not.

    Good luck!

    #8251 Reply

    Hi Susan,

    Welcome! Ripening paper is something I think all cheese makers struggle with. In my case, finding sheets big enough for the 200m diameter wheels I make… so I’ve had to get creative.

    Firstly, please note that it’s not uncommon for the “velvety” coating to thicken up once the wheels are in the cheese wrap (whether that’s paper, plastic, or the foil type). However, for the utmost “winter coat” as I call it, I don’t actually wrap at all. But I’ll get to that.

    Sometimes I “roll” my patchier sides of my wheels on the thicker “velvety” of other wheels in a “cross pollination” technique. It works, but if you’re running out of time….

    Are you inoculating your milk with the white moulds? If so, consider using the spray on technique, in addition to your inoculation, just to patch the thin stuff up.

    All you need is a small (50ml for your purposes) sanitized “misting/spritzing” spray bottle, boiled/sanitized water, allow it to cool, and add (insert normal amount of culture for this make) of Penicillium Candidum to the water, shake the bottle to mix the culture, and spray it on. Spray so it’s damp, not wet.Less is best in this case.

    I keep the unused solution in the bottle for a few days in the fridge, shaking it each time before lightly spraying where needed. Sometimes in the earlier phases, I’ll spray twice a day, just to give it a “head start”.

    However, if the cheese surface dries too much, it becomes somewhat resistant to growth, it may be best to leave it and cut that bit off at the end.

    There are a few ways to age a brie…. not all of them involve wrapping.

    I think it was in Mary Karlin’s book, “Artisan Cheese Making at Home” she describes that some bries can be left unwrapped to age. Simply keep it in the same ageing container as you do for the mould development, and continue to flip it every day. The routine of opening the tupperware container while flipping allows the gas to be released, as the wrap would do (or actually better in my experience). If you are making taller wheels (the kind that are above 5cm tall, or double/triple cream bries) it’s unlikely to age to the point where the core will be entirely “goo” but instead have a mild fresher flavour in the middle, and softer creamier flavour closer to the surface. Some people like this.

    Ageing it beyond this point means you start getting into some over-aged territory, and it doesn’t necessarily add any benefits. However, your tastes may differ wildly from my own.

    That said…. if you like your soft gooey bries…

    Now I should note that the second stage of aging should be done in a regular fridge, but I have to say I’m having positive results by continuing it at 10 degrees Celsius, flipping daily unwrapped… however, the aging process is definitely shortened. This might be a good thing, or terrible, depending on your situation.

    To combat this a little…

    When I make a batch of brie, I make a few differing sizes, a couple of small 10cm wheels, they’ll be ready pretty quickly, especially if their height is only a 25-30mm high. Similarly, I used a 200mm mould with my “leftover curd” so that it ended up being only 10-12mm high… The brie “pancake” actually aged first because of the thinness. It was effectively cream cheese with a brie coat by the fourth week. We had it this Easter, and it was delicious.

    I hope this helps!

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