Why Does Brie Cheese Turn Brown?

  • Brie turning brown is part of the natural aging process
  • The rind is composed of mold which may change color as the cheese ripens further
  • However, if the entire rind is brown and the cheese smells of ammonia, it should be thrown away
  • Keeping the brie at a constant temperature may stop it from turning brown
  • Try storing it in different conditions to see if it makes a difference

What is the Science Behind Brie?

As you know, brie should have a soft, almost fluffy white rind, so if it turns brown, it could be a concern.

So, before I discuss what has caused the brown color, let’s look at the science behind the brie and why it is white in the first place.

You may be surprised to learn that the rind is composed of mold that has been deliberately introduced into the cheese. 

A culture known as Penicillium candidum is added during the cheesemaking process to encourage mold to grow and form the rind.

Skilled artisan cheesemakers regularly pat down the furry growth, allowing it to form the coating on the brie.

 Even after you purchase the cheese, this mold continues to grow, it is alive!

This is a weird thought considering that we are supposed to eat the rind; it adds to the overall taste, texture, and experience of brie.

However, as the brie is aging and the mold grows, it can change color, hence you may notice brown patches.

What Factors Affect the Color of Brie?

Although we are used to the typical bright white appearance of brie, are there other factors that mean it could be a different color?

Perhaps it is already brown when you buy it, or it changes color as time goes on.

During the cheesemaking process, brie is allowed to age, and this requires specific temperatures and humidity.

The temperature is kept at 12 to 15° C, and the humidity at 90 to 94%.

This allows for the perfect ripening to occur between nine and 30 days, creating the desired white mold rind.

If the temperature is raised, then the cheese ripens quicker, but that could lead to the mold moving on in its development and becoming brown.

Some manufacturers prefer to age the brie quickly for a faster turnaround time and to maximize profits.

Hence, if the brie is already brown or changes color quickly after you purchase it, the cheese is just further along in its ripening process and is not harmful. 

Of course, this method could also be detrimental to the manufacturer, as consumers may not wish to buy brie that they perceive as not being perfect.

How to Stop Brie From Turning Brown?

As mentioned, it can be completely normal for brie to turn brown, but it doesn’t mean the cheese has gone bad.

However, if it does concern you, there are certain measures you can take to help prevent it.

You need to store the brie properly and keep it at a constant temperature.

Keep it in its original packaging until you intend to use it, and then re-wrap the cheese tightly. 

Once opened, you can wrap it in waxed or parchment paper.

If you prefer to keep the brie in a container, ensure the box or bowl is completely dry. 

If you don’t plan on eating the brie by its use-by date, you can freeze it for up to six months if wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil. 

It should be thawed in the refrigerator before use. 

Prolonged exposure to air may also cause some discoloration.

Ideally, brie should be eaten at room temperature, so once removed from the fridge, keep it covered, not just sitting on a plate.

Is It Safe to Eat Cheese Rinds?

My Final Thoughts

And, if this has piqued your interest in brie, find out if you are supposed to eat the rind!

How do your own experiences with brie cheese compare to the aging and spoilage signs discussed in the post, and what strategies do you use to determine its quality before consumption?

Let us know in the comments below!

FAQ: Understanding Brie Cheese – Aging, Spots, and Spoilage

What causes brown spots on brie cheese?

  • Brown spots on brie cheese can result from the natural aging process, as the cheese matures and develops its flavor profile.
  • These spots may also indicate spoilage if they appear after you’ve opened the cheese, signaling that the cheese may no longer be safe to eat.

2. Is brie cheese still good if it has brown spots?

  • Brie with brown spots can still be good if these spots were present when you first bought the cheese and are part of its natural rind.
  • If the spots appear later or the cheese shows other signs of spoilage (such as an off smell or taste), it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid eating it.

3. How do you tell if brie cheese is spoiled?

  • Spoiled brie cheese often has a sour or ammonia-like smell, which is a clear indicator that the cheese is no longer good to consume.
  • The texture of the cheese may also change, becoming excessively soft, and slimy, or if mold that is not part of the original rind appears, it’s a sign of spoilage.

4. Can you eat the rind of brie cheese?

  • Yes, the rind of brie cheese is edible and is considered by many to be a delicacy that adds to the flavor experience of the cheese.
  • However, personal preference varies, and some may choose to remove the rind before eating the soft cheese inside.

5. How long does brie cheese last after opening?

  • Brie cheese typically lasts about 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator after being opened if properly stored in airtight conditions.
  • The shelf life can vary based on the specific cheese, how it’s stored, and its exposure to air, so it’s important to check for signs of spoilage before consuming.

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