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Life is short... enjoy Normandie Brie

The aim of developing the Normandie Brie product was to create a cheese that was safe and shelf stable enough for mass distribution, yet retained the ability to ripen and change flavor with the natural aging process, producing a cheese that is still “alive, and that will still ripen and change character, as it moves through its life stages. In order to accomplish this, ISIGNY, our manufacturer is using the “lactic” form of milk pasteurization, along with it’s own proprietary starter cultures, which determine the ripening process, texture and flavor of the cheese.

With respect to pasteurization, typical brie for U.S. import uses a double pasteurization stabilization and solubilizing process, wherein the brie is pasteurized, then water is added, and the milk is heated again. This produces kills the entire milk maturization process, and produces the typical, static, bland, non-flavor changing cheese generally sold in most grocery stores. The rind remains solid white and generally thicker, and the paste retains uniform consistency, never softening or “running”, while the flavor, as well, stays the same, no matter how long the cheese is held. Ultimately of course, there will be spoilage, but no interim aging process.

The lactic form of pasteurization, while still employing a single, but not double heating of the milk at lower temperatures, also takes advantage of the natural clabbering process of the milk, which metabolizes the milk sugar lactose in the milk into lactic acid. This effectively decreases the pH factor of the milk (potentially from as high as 6.5-6.6 down to 4.5-4.6, about the level of cottage cheese and sour cream), which in turn creates safety and stability, but does not destroy the natural ripening characteristics of the cheese. Effectively this process destroys harmful lysteria or salmonella bacteria, but retains a tiny, acceptable amount of ecoli type bacteria. As a result the Normandie Brie will pass through a ripening process as it ages. Notable will be some cracks and darker colorization in the fleuring on the rind and the interior paste will show a distinctive aging process, beginning around the rim underneath the rind where softening in the consistency will occur, while the center of the cheese will show a distinctively firmer core. As the cheese ages this core will disappear, as the entire paste becomes soft, and the flavor will become more intense and complex.