A cheese production veteran talks camembert craftsmanship
- Please introduce yourself and how long you have been making camembert cheese.
Jocelyne Quilichini, Director of Quality & Food Safety and have been in the cheese industry for more than 20 years.
- What makes the Ile de France Normandie Camembert special? How is it different from other camemberts?
The starters used to make the outside of the cheese have been specially selected to give a very thin, delicately blond-colored rind, honeyed smell and a nice, mild taste, all of which the cheese keeps its whole lifespan.
- Why does the Normandie region produce especially delicious camembert cheese?
Normandy is the region where the camembert recipe was born. The milk produced there suits this cheese’s production very well. The terrain of this region is especially well adapted for Camembert cheese making. A temperate climate throughout the year allows the cows to graze 9 months out of 12. The rich soil, along with lots of rain, allows grass to grow and being near the ocean brings a natural saltiness to the ground.
- How many steps are there in the camembert making process?
A good camembert needs very good quality milk, processed very quickly after arriving in the cheese factory. The milk is first pasteurized, then prepared (we say standardized) to get the right fat and protein balance.
We add the selected starters at the right temperature (maturation) - and then the rennet. The curd forms, and then becomes firm enough to be cut in small cubes. The whey gets out of the curd and that is poured in moulds, which are then set in special rooms at a temperature that allow the starters to grow.
One day exactly after rennetting, the cheese is taken out of the mould and set on trays. We pour dry salt on it and settle it in ripening rooms where the temperature and humidity are gradually changed to develop the rind.
After 10 days, the cheese is weighed, controlled and packed - and ready to be sent to the customer.
- What do the cheese makers do to ensure camembert's quality?
Good cheese makers use a mix of scientific measures (micro, composition, acidity, ect.) and quite sensual methods (touching, smelling and tasting).
- What are your favorite ways to enjoy camembert cheese?
Traditionally, French people eat it with fresh French bread (baguette) and red wine (some spread the bread with butter).
If you want my secret, try it while drinking apple cider - it is delicious !