A Bit of History
This story involves the French Revolution, a priest on the run, and a lady farmer
(sounds pretty cheesey so far Eh!).
During the French Revolution (1789), many priests took refuge in the countryside. One such priest sought refuge with the family of Marie Harel in Normandy near the village of Camembert. Marie was born and grew up in Camembert and had been making a regional cheese. The priest came from the Brie region near Paris. In return for the refuge he gave to Marie the “secrets” of making Brie-style cheese. In fact, Marie and her family had been making a well recognized cheese in Normandy for many years before this but with the contribution from the priest, Marie Harel was able to adapt the cheese well enough that others in the region began to adapt these changes as well and the new cheese, Camembert was born.
Initially, this was a very regional cheese that did not travel well due to its soft ripe condition and primitive transport. However, with the invention of the mass produced round wooden boxes to protect the cheese and quick transport of the railroads, the cheese could be safely and quickly moved to major markets such as Paris. The fame of the cheese spread and for many years it was a hand produced artisan made product. Then along came industry with its changes and the cheese has changed.
The majority of the Camembert made in France today is produced and ripened very differently and most is from pasteurized milk. All that arrives in the US today from France is of this style.
Fortunately, a few artisan cheese makers in the U.S. have modified the recipe to work quite well with the pasteurized milk requirements handed down by the all knowing "food protectors".
In the following page, I will focus on making this cheese at home where you can decide for yourself if you would like to make the cheese from a pasteurized milk or a high quality raw milk that you are 110% sure is safe.
As a raw milk cheese, this will not be aged for the required 60 days and hence cannot be sold legally in the USA.