The soft French cheese is also known as soft paste cheese. The French cheeses are bifurcated into three families: Pressed cheeses; Soft Cheeses and Blue Cheeses. The cheeses belonging to the soft French cheese category are generally used as spreads and are not used for cooking. These cheeses have short shelf life compared to pressed cheeses and blue cheeses.
The soft French cheese is usually distinguished by its white powdery crust. When the cheese is ripened it shows tinges of reddish brown color and becomes soft at the centre. These kind of cheeses have golden yellow interiors and have very creamy, soft and buttery smooth texture. Cutting the crust helps to slow down the ripening of the cheese. The soft French cheese should always be served at the room temperature. A soft French cheese can be teamed well with French breads, fruits and can be enjoyed with light to medium French red wines.
History of Soft French Cheese
The earliest reference of soft French cheese dates back to 1217 AD, when a French woman named Blanche de Navarre gifted 200 blocks of the Brie cheese to the French King (Philippe Auguste). It is believed that these cheese blocks were demanded by the king to impress his paramours. But the mass production of French cheeses began in 1850.
Popular Soft French Cheese Recipes
- Camembert Fritters – These are the delicious crispy fritters which looks crispy outside and soft inside.
- Camembert or Brie Soufflé: This double cheese appetizer has majestic taste.
- Baked Camembert: This is normally served as the winter dish.
- Grilled Camembert Sandwich: This can be prepared easily and served as the quick lunch treat.
- Camembert Chicken: This cheesy chicken dish can go well with any steamed vegetable.
Nutritive Value of Soft French Cheeses
Cheeses supply protein, calcium, phosphorus and fats and soft French cheese is not an exception to it. Cheeses are perceived to be one of the prominent sources of saturated fats and are often linked to obesity. Various studies suggest that some soft French cheese is capable of supporting the teeth health too.
Consumption Criteria of Soft French Cheeses
As mentioned above most of the soft French cheeses have short shelf life and must be consumed within a week’s time. If the cheese looks too runny and tastes bitter that means the cheese is past its prime and is not safe for consumption.
Buying and Storing of Soft French Cheese
While buying and storing a soft French cheese, following points should be kept in mind:
- Sample the cheese before you buy.
- Soft French cheese should be stored in cool and dry location.
- Always wrap the remaining cheese in paper after the use.
- Keep out the cheese atleast an hour before you plant to use them.
Type of Soft French Cheeses
There are many types of soft French cheeses and their specialties vary from region to region. Many of the soft French cheeses that we see and buy today are manufactured in small units of the region. Some of the popular types of soft French cheeses are:
- Brie: Brie is the most popular variety of the soft French cheese. There are two types of Brie’s- Brie de Melun and Brie de Meaux. This is a mild creamy cheese with a soft white crust.
- Camembert: This is a popular soft ripened cheese with buttery rich complexion. The Camembert is hard and dry cheese, and is often recommended to those who love strong cheeses.
- Mont d'Or: This is a seasonal cheese with beige colored crust. It is considered to be the strong cheese but not the sharp one.
- Saint Nectaire: Some people call it the “greatest French cheeses” of all time. Indeed this is the most soft French cheese variety, which is enjoyed throughout the world. Normally the young Saint Nectaire’s are dry and hard when young, and turn elastic and soft when they ripen. This cheese displays slight tendency to flow at room temperature.
- Mont d'Or: This is a seasonal cheese and is not generally produced in summers. This cheese is distinguished by its beige crust, with soft to runny interiors. It is a strong cheese but not the sharp.