How to make brie cheese at home

Posted on 21 December 2010

Recently we’ve been making a fair bit of brie cheese.  We’ve been using the Cleopatra’s raw cow’s milk (including the cream on top!).   4L makes 3 good size brie cheese wheels. We simply heat the milk up to 32°C in a big sterilised pot, add in a mesophilic starter (the culture – a couple of grains), the penicillum candidum (this is the white mould that grows on the outside – a couple of grains) and the rennet (1/4 teaspoon mixed in just less than 1 tablespoon water), stirring in an 8 shape for around 2 minutes.  Then we leave it, off the heat, for around 45 minutes.  (note: please check the amounts you should use on the specific rennet, starter and penicillum you buy).

When we have returned to the pot the milk has set so we cut it with a knife in to cubes which are then ladled in to our cheese moulds (basically food grade plastic tubes with holes in them).  We put the moulds on top of upside down plates, in a tray so that the whey can drip out of the holes and away from the cheese. They are left to sit, with lids on to keep insects out, for around 2 days (or until the whey has stopped dripping down). The mould is filled to the very top, but as you can see in this photograph, once the whey has drained, it is much smaller in size.

Now we remove the plastic moulds, sprinkle some salt on top of the cheese, put them on a wire rack (for airflow), put the whole rack in some clean plastic bags and put them in the fridge.  The plastic bags are to trap some moisture, creating a microclimate in the fridge because our fridge is a frost free fridge.  Without them, the mould wouldn’t grow.

After a couple of weeks we see white mould starting to grow on our cheese…

Then we take the plastic bag away and leave the cheese to grow the rest of the mould, covering the entire surface area and then it takes a further 4 weeks or so before it’s ready for eating.  But this really depends on the humidity in the fridge and the longer we leave it, the more piquant it becomes!  Here are some photos of some more advanced brie wheels we have made…

In the below photograph, the cheese on the left are approximately 2 weeks old whereas the ones on the right are approximately 1 week old (compare the mould growth).

As written earlier, rennet is necessary to make brie, but what is rennet? Rennet is added to coagulate the milk proteins into curds.

Traditional rennet is from animals and is the most commonly used kind in making cheese. The source of animal rennet is membrane that lines the stomach, or in the case of ruminants, the fourth stomach. Traditional animal rennet is taken from calves, lambs or goats killed before they are weaned.

Ok, so hopefully you realise now that rennet is obtained by killing baby animals and therefore traditional cheese is not vegetarian.

However, there are other ways to coagulate milk and you can buy other types of rennet.  Plant based rennet is sometimes sourced for specific enzymes.  They can be from plants, fungi and microbes. Some examples are: extract of fig juice, nettles, thistles, mallow, ground ivy, phytic acid from unfermented soybeans (or GM soy).  GMO-Microbial rennet is what industrial cheesemaking mostly uses because it is less expensive than animal rennet – don’t worry, Europeans, your cheese is probably still traditional and uses animal rennet. Laboratories have also made microbial rennet by producing the same genes found in a calf’s stomach to modify some bacteria, fungi or yeasts to make them produce chymosin. The latter are not considered by vegetarians to be meat-free even though they are not made from animals but they are sometimes commercially labelled ‘vegetarian’ rennet.  One last note, those with soy-based allergies should beware as GM soy rennet or phytic acid, derived from unfermented soybeans may be used.

In summary – if you are vegetarian, against GMO or allergic to soy, be careful which rennet you use!  In all cases, brie is really good to eat by itself, with some chutney or just on some fresh, warm bread. :)

 


65 responses to How to make brie cheese at home

  • Eva says:

    Mmmmmhhhhh!! Yummmi, yummmiiii Delicioso… se me hace la boca agua
    Why don´t you make this cheese when I was there? ;-)
    Enjoy it!!!

    [Reply]

    jsr Reply:

    Well, you are always welcome to come come back and try by yourself! :-)

    [Reply]

    cjg Reply:

    Thank you Eva! Hope you are doing well xxx

    [Reply]

    Dimis Reply:

    Hi
    I wonder what are the sizes of the tubs you use in diameter an height. Also since you don’t flip the molds don’t the brie look like a cone because of the tubs?
    Dimis

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi again Dimis… the dimensions of the moulds are 10cm high and 10cm in diameter… ours didn’t look like cones… I’m not sure what you mean :)

    [Reply]

  • x says:

    Hmmm, these look amazing! Can I make them with pasteurized milk, though? It’s the only milk I drink and I know that many cheeses from the store are made with it, but will this recipe work with it? :)

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hello x,

    We’ve never tried that specific recipe with unpasteurised milk so we actually don’t know. Having said that, you can generally indeed make brie from pasteurised milk. We nevertheless prefer the old traditional way of doing it – ie with unpasteurised milk – as the ‘friendly’ bacteria are otherwise killed during the pasteurisation process. :-)

    [Reply]

    x Reply:

    That’s great! Another question: can you do it with 2% or 3.25% milk, or do you need whole milk? Whole milk is unfortunately unavailable where I live (large eastern Canadian city)…

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hello x,

    I’m surprised that whole milk is unavailable in your place. Have you tried health food shops or farmers’ markets? This is a good opportunity for you to get in touch with local farmers :-)
    Apparently you can make brie with non-whole milk (although we have only tried this recipe with whole milk) but the chance is that it will be less creamy and you’ll be missing out all of the beneficial fats…

    adam Reply:

    Homogenized 3.25% milk is whole milk. It is homogenized, i.e. the fat globules are broken up into much smaller particles so the cream does not separate, but the fat content is still the same as in fresh milk.

    Dave Reply:

    I have had many raw milk brie cheese and I can tell you, the ones made from raw milk, are in different league as compared to ones made with processed, store bought milk. processed milk brie has very little flavour, at least in my opinion.
    And the sad part, where I live, I cannot even make a raw milk brie at home. If I do, I can be charged, even though it is for my consumption.

    timothy price Reply:

    Only cheese that ripen at least 60 days are considered safe to make form raw milk. Brie made with unpasturied milk is not recommended as it may contain unhealthy bacteria. I have tried making it and was disappointed with the flavor.

    Brie has a delicate flavor which is highly prized. Other bacteria in raw milk grows and contributes to the “off” taste. it is well worth the effort to sterilize the milk if you have access to raw milk. 145 degrees for 1/2 hour will do.

    [Reply]

  • x says:

    Thanks for the answer! I haven’t tried health food stores, but I don’t think that they sell whole milk. I do recall noticing that they sell organic pasteurized milk, the same as one can get at the grocery store, but for a price that I suspect to be even more astronomical (at the grocery store, 2 liters of organic milk cost over $5!!!). The only “farmers’ market” that we have only sells vegetables in the summer. Needless to say, there aren’t many farmers around here. :P

    [Reply]

  • Ingrid Littrell says:

    Hello, where could I buy the mesophilic starter (the culture), the penicillum candidum and how much would I have to use for the 4 gallons of whole milk?
    Thank you so very much for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Ingrid.. we forgot to mention the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company http://www.cheesemaking.com/ for more information… they recently shared our post on their blog too! http://cheesemakinghelp.blogspot.com/2011/06/brie-ala-carly-and-jean.html

    [Reply]

  • Making Sense of Things says:

    Well, we don’t know where you are living, but it is very likely that you could find it from online shops. If in Australia, try http://www.cheeselinks.com.au/ where we purchased ours.

    As per the quantity, we’re not sure as you use the gallons unit, but it probably shouldn’t be more than 2-3 grains of each. We’ll however check that and come back to you if we’re wrong :^)

    [Reply]

  • Suzanne says:

    Hi.. I was led here by the feature in the NE Cheesemaking blog. I am very pleased to be trying this today! Other recipes are so fussy..
    I have a question though: the temperature of your refridge? Is this an ordinary fridge in your kitchen or do you have it set to a warmer temp for cheesemaking?
    Thanks!
    BTW, I am making mine with whole raw goat milk.
    All the best–
    Suz in Vermont USA

    [Reply]

    ryan Reply:

    Suzanne,
    When reading this i was thinking goat milk. Was wondering how it turned out??

    Ryan

    [Reply]

    Suzanne Reply:

    It came out wonderfully. Haven’t made any yet this year but will be doing it soon. Need to get some more molds!

    [Reply]

  • Making Sense of Things says:

    Hi Suz! Thanks for visiting our site. We just use a normal fridge. At the time we put our brie in, we cover it loosely with a plastic bag to trap moisture as most modern fridges are frost free. Otherwise, we’ve heard of people using wine fridges which aren’t frost free. Hope that helps :)

    [Reply]

    Suzanne Reply:

    Yes that does help! One more question.. how much rennet do you use? Thanks again..
    Suz.

    [Reply]

  • Theo says:

    Hi
    Thx for the recipe. I live in Nicaragua and dont have the ability to purchase the cultures. Could i culture from brie?

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Theo, Sorry, but we don’t know if that is possible… if you find out, we’d love you to share your experience with us!

    [Reply]

    adam Reply:

    Theo, I’m sure it is possible because brie rind has a live culture of P. candidum / camemberti. How to do it successfully is another question that I’ll be trying to figure out in the next few weeks.

    Possibly it is as simple as pulverizing a bit of brie rind with a healthy growth of the white fungus in a quantity of sterilized milk and then adding it to the batch.

    Or if not, one could try to induce the mould to produce spores by stressing it with low moisture/low nutrients.

    As it may take longer for the mould to fully develop using this method (or so I suspect), keeping things v. clean in order to prevent the growth of undesirable moulds would be critical. These are my thoughts so far, well see how it goes.

    [Reply]

    Donfay11 Reply:

    Thamks for your input, Adam. Your info has been very helpful.

    [Reply]

  • JB says:

    Hi, love the site.
    Small producer of game and native protucts on a non commercial basis, good old barter.

    Please let me know how you have embedded (is that the correct term?) such great music.
    Kindest Ragards

    Llewellyn

    [Reply]

  • Making Sense of Things says:

    Hi Suz,

    Sorry for the delayed response – we’ve been without internet connection recently.

    For 4L of milk we use 1/4 teaspoon of rennet mixed in just less than 1 tablespoon of water.

    [Reply]

  • Making Sense of Things says:

    Hello Llewllyn,

    Thanks for your kind comment, and we hope your production is going well! As for the music, we’ve created the radio from the Radionomy website (here: http://www.radionomy.com/en/radio/soundsory), then embedded it to our blog by copy-pasting the code provided by Radionomy.

    I hope that helps, but of not, don’t hesitate to ask us more questions.

    [Reply]

  • Linda says:

    Are you following Ricki Carroll’s recipe in her book Home Cheesemaking for the brie? I ask because your technique is much more simplified. If you’re not using her recipe, can you give the particulars of how much mesophilic starter, how much flora danica, other ingredients? I see you are using 1/4 tsp rennet which is fairly standard for 1 gallon of milk. Thanks

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Linda, Sorry it has taken so long to respond but we have been travelling around Jordan and Palestine learning about Permaculture in the region. We aren’t using Ricki Carroll’s recipe.. we learnt from Elisabeth Fekonia (www.permacultureproduce.com.au). We simply use a couple of grains of the mesophilic starter and penicillum candidum (white mould powder), 4 litres of milk, 1/4 tspn rennet in just less than 1tbspn of water… However, you should check the amount specified on the packaging of the products you buy because cultures, moulds, rennets and additives vary in concentration per manufacturer. I hope that helps!

    [Reply]

  • James says:

    Wonderful recipe. So clearly put down.

    I do like the idea of keeping the maturing cheese in a plastic bag in the fridge. I’ve been wondering how to mature them. I think I’ll try it with the Cheddar I make too.

    Many thanks

    James

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Glad you enjoyed our post, James! We are still experimenting with cheese making ourselves :) It’s so enjoyable. Let us know how your cheddar goes! We’ve been wanting to make some but don’t have a press (or made a suitable one yet) :)

    [Reply]

  • Guilherme Sa says:

    Rennet: the life of a baby, the pain of a mother. All in industrial scale. Im never eating this again. thank you for opening my eyes. Animals, especially mammals like us, are sentient beings not things or merchandise. You can assess that by looking at your pet dog.

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Thank you for your comment and we are happy you got so much from our post :)

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    I have never used animal rennet. You can get vegetable rennet (and all the other cultures needed) from http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/xcart/Cultures-Rennet-Color/

    [Reply]

  • Kathrin says:

    Love the simplicity of your recipe. Thanks for sharing it. After 2weeks in plastic bags in fridge you say you remove the plastic. Does that mean the cheeses are hanging out with everything else in the fridge without an issue or is this a cheese dedicated fridge? Are they wrapped in that perforated cheese wrap at that point? I’m making some right now using the fresh goat milk from my little farm in Massachusetts, US. Thanks!!!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Kathrin, We don’t have a dedicated fridge, so yes, they just hang out with everything else :) How’s your goat cheese going? sounds yum!

    [Reply]

    Kathrin Reply:

    The cheese is going well. I’ve made 3 batches of it, made a mistake on one but so far the first batch is ripe and tastes great! Looks just like professionally made Brie. I did just learn I should wrap it in that special wrap as soon as mold fully covers it and I also did not do the turning very often because it was in someone else’s extra fridge and it’s a drive to get there. (my fridge is full of goat milk)
    So truly, your cheese doesn’t dry out when you take the plastic bag off? I’d think the defrosting fridge would kill the mold and dry the rind out but maybe the rind is thick enough at that point to keep the cheese safe? enquiring minds want to know. ; >

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Kathrin, Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. What special wrap did you use? I think you wrote something about some perforated cheese wrap? Is it plastic or a waxy paper? That’s right about the defrosting fridge… it really matters! Older fridges aren’t frost free so tend to still work and those little wine fridges are great for keeping the cheese in because they aren’t frost free fridges. Elisabeth Fekonia, who we learnt from, doesn’t use any wrap either… I wonder if it really depends on the moisture in your specific fridge and environment?

  • Kaitlyn says:

    When I think of cheese with mold on it I curl my nose and think “YUCK!!!” But really thats how cheese is made and I still eat it. LOL! Me and my family are getting sheep that are very good milk sheep, and we will use their milk for making cheese. Also we are getting Welsh Black cows.. and they have good milk too! We will use that too. I am so excited to start milking! We have Cashmere goats and I have tried to make cheese out of their milk before, but I don’t think it really worked out.. I mean.. It was cheeese but boy I did not follow that recipe. Hahaha :) lets hope I wont mess up next time!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Wow! Sounds so exciting to be trying all these milk sources to make real cheese! Would love to see some of your creations :)

    [Reply]

  • Brian says:

    I found your Brie recipe and I’m excited to try it, but one thing keeps bothering me and I wonder if you could confirm it. It’s probably my industrialized sensibilities kicking in. So, you really just leave the milk, even raw milk, out in room temperature for a few days? Nothing bad is likely to grow?

    Thanks! I am glad I found your blog via my search for a brie recipe and I have enjoyed following it!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Brian, Thanks for visiting our site :) Cottage cheese is made exactly by leaving raw milk on the bench.. check out our post: http://makingsenseofthings.info/2011/01/how-to-make-cottage-cheese-at-home/ Pasteurised, homogenised milk doesn’t contain all the necessary bacteria to make the milk clabber like raw milk does. Raw milk doesn’t really ‘spoil’, it just transforms whereas pasteurised milk spoils and becomes dangerous to consume. Hope that helps you…

    [Reply]

    Brian Reply:

    Thanks for your response! I would not have guessed that it is actually safer to leave out raw milk than processed milk, so I’m glad to learn this before I try making Brie (in case I had used processed milk). Now I will know to use raw milk for sure.

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Brian, I like to think of it as a little war in the milk between good bacteria and bad bacteria. In raw milk you have lots of good bacteria that multiply and keep the bad bacteria population low. In pasteurised milk all of the good bacteria (and bad bacteria) has been killed by high heat so when you leave it on the bench and the bad bacteria start to invade there are no good bacteria to take over! The only thing I want to add is that we have to remember the reason pasteurisation was introduced… lots of people were getting sick/dying from things like listeria and salmonella… so, please make sure you get raw milk from a good, clean source :)

  • Brian says:

    Thanks for the clear explanation. It does make sense!

    [Reply]

  • Kathrin says:

    I got the cheese wrap from http://www.cheesemaking.com it’s the one they recommend for mold cheese like the Brie. I think I read somewhere that once the white mold reaches full bloom it’s best to wrap it but don’t remember if there was any sound reason given. I’ve done it on some and not on others yet. I also didn’t flip mine as they were ripening because they were in a fridge in a different town and that affected the bloom. They are quite scrumptious though and I really appreciate your post that inspired me. I’ve passed the link on to many others who like me had trouble imagining it was possible to “try this at home”!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Thank you so much Kathrin! It’s wonderful to have this exchange and feedback :)

    [Reply]

  • Irina says:

    Hello and thanks a lot for this post!
    Would you please share the exact temperature & humidity the cheese needs to be stored?
    At the begining in a plastic bag, in the fridge. But after taking the bag off? Back in the fridge? Which temperature and humidity?
    Many thanks in advance!

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Irina, I’m really sorry but I don’t know the exact temperature and humidity… I will look around to see if I can find out :)

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Irina, I contacted my original cheese teacher and she gave me this info to pass on to you: For the brie the plastic bag is only needed if you have a frost free fridge – if your fridge is the old style it should be fine. Sorry I don’t know about exact humidity but it’s around 75- 80% needed to grow the mould onto the cheese. Exact temperature suitable for brie is 13 degrees but colder is fine too.

    [Reply]

    Irina Reply:

    Hello again,

    Thanks a lot for your answer!
    So, apparently, it’s not really pharmaceutical process – meaning extremely strict. I hope it will turn out fine :)

    Thanks again, all the best from Romania!

    [Reply]

  • Didi says:

    Where did you get your containers to drain your cheese in? When I search for food grade plastic I only get bulk buying sites and I would have to add the holes myself. Do you think I could recycle a old yogurt container?

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Didi… we bought our containers off a cheese making site in Australia when we were there but we also made some ourselves from a large plastic container that had honey in it. We just drilled holes in the sides :)

    [Reply]

  • Dimis says:

    Hi,
    what are the sizes of the moulds / tubs you have in the picture? and how much do you fill them? Also for the 2 days dripping do you have then in the fridge or out?
    regards,
    Dimis

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Dimis… the moulds are 10cm high and 10cm in diameter but you can make whatever size you desire :) We fill our moulds to the top. They are left out of the fridge for the 2 days dripping.

    [Reply]

  • [...] How to make brie cheese at home [...]

  • Ron Edwards says:

    Ihave been making Camembert,Brie and Chedder for over a year now.Mad Millie(N.Z.) and Cheeselinks(Aust) I have found another good one, Green living Australia a very good site for all Cheese Making equipment and Ingredients.If you type in HomeCheese Making.com there are pages about making cheese at home.All the above hold Classes,and supply all the Cultures and everthing you will ever need. I made Brie yesterday and Farm House Chedder today.I also make my own Thick,creamy Yoghurt,less than a $1 a Litre.Interesting seeing all that milk change to Curds and Whey and become cheese. Cheers Ron

    [Reply]

  • Kathrin says:

    There’s also the online Cheese Forum that is a really lovely group of supportive people making cheese around the world and sharing strategies, recipes and answering beginner questions. It’s here:
    http://cheeseforum.org/forum/

    [Reply]

  • Enn says:

    I coagulate milk into curd with fresh lemon juice, added some grapefruit juice: it works well enough. Some vegetarians use natural gypsum powder for that – works well too.

    From here you can order tempeh starter which is same as for brie or camembert cheeses.

    I did just goat milk cheese, two discs and added into it some jeera cumin (Indian spicy white cumin) as well as rose salt + inca berries for surprise and good taste.

    Shall see, what is the result.

    [Reply]

    Enn Reply:

    Tempeh starter is available here:
    http://www.tempeh.info/starter/tempeh-starter.php

    [Reply]

  • I can not wait to try this recipe. Thanks

    [Reply]

  • Scott Tucker says:

    Scott Tucker

    How to make brie cheese at home | Making Sense of Things

  • Regina says:

    Hi, I assumed that because these cheese making takes place in Australia, then I can try making it in a tropical country. I live in Panama, near the ocean. fair weather, high humidity and access to good grass fed cow and goat milk. Should I build me a small subterranean cellar or would a standard refrigerator do? Thank you

    [Reply]

    Making Sense of Things Reply:

    Hi Regina, My cheese making teacher lives in the tropics with high humidity and she makes amazing cheese! She keeps all her cheese in a standard refrigerator (once they are finished) and she ‘grows’ them in a wine fridge which isn’t frost free like most fridges :)

    [Reply]

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