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Endangered Species: Camembert Cheese

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Camembert – the beloved creamy french cheese is going extinct, bloomberg reports, as producers opt to use pasteurised milk rather than raw milk to make the fromage.

Camembert – soft, rich, creamy – is certainly one of the world’s greatest cheeses. The second-most-popular cheese in France (after Brie de Meaux), it has been around since the late 18th century, and today, some 360 million wheels are produced in France annually.

Yet it seems that out of this 360 million wheels, only 4 million have true Camembert credentials…

To be certified as authentic Camembert, the cheese has to be stamped with the French Protected Designations of Origin label (PDO), which signifies provenance from a specific region, made in a historically accurate way.

Authentic Camembert is known as PDO Camembert de Normandie, and it has to be made with unfiltered raw milk with a fat content of at least 38% that comes from cows from France’s Northern Normandy province, fed under strict conditions – grass and hay from local pastures. This milk must be transported no further than the distance of a few fields, and hand-ladled in four or more layers into specific molds, then left to set.

So why is it getting so rare?

As Business Insider reports, only a few small producers continue to abide by this process.

To make the cheese-making process faster, big cheese makers have asked to use pasteurised milk, because they would then be able to use multiple milk sources, and make the cheese in larger batches, making cheese with less variability that is easier to handle.

The French government, however, ruled that only raw milk can be used for an official PDO Camembert. Thus, much of the camembert that is being produced is Camembert fabriqué en Normandie, and not PDO Camembert.

To be certain, Camembert fabriqué en Normandie is still delicious – soft, rich and creamy – but if you have the time, you should indeed head to France to find a truly authentic Camembert to devour.

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