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Perhaps France"s best-known cheese, and much copied in various parts of the world with various degrees of success (including a version made in California). AOC cheeses must be made and ripen in an area about 50 km east of Paris. Cow"s milk is always used, pasteurised in most industriel versions, unpasteurised (raw milk) in more prestigious versions.

The most often found versions of the cheese are the following -Brie "Latier": the massed-produced and most commonly found type of French Brie and made from pasteurised cow"s milk.. Cheese come in 3 sizes, and 2 degrees of fat content (45% & 50%). This cheese is ripened for about 3 weeks, and is the most common supermarket variety.

"Brie de Meaux" (AOC 1980): Made with raw (unpasteurised) milk. Affinage normally takes 8 weeks and a rind darker than Brie Latier - and a slight red/brown colouration - develops. Available all the year.

"Brie Noir": a form of Brie aged for a year. The cheese becomes toffee-coloured and the rind crumbly. Not often found outside its region of production, where the locals soak it into their coffee for breakfast.

"Brie de Melun" (AOC 1980): a stronger and saltier variety of Brie, made from raw milk. Probably the direct descendent of Louis XV1 and Tallyrand"s Brie. Whereas Brie de Meaux is made quickly with rennet, this variety depends on lactic fermentation which takes considerably longer. Most Brie of this type is now consumed in the area of production. See Coulommiers.

See "Brie; History"

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Courses take place in the Charente in France, and are suitable for beginners upwards - including budding restateurs.

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