I’m going to imagine you have just gone to the fridge to get yourself a tasty cheese snack, only to discover that the brie has turned brown!
It certainly no longer looks appetizing, but is it safe to eat?
Brie is a very popular cheese, so I am sure that many people have noticed this strange occurrence.
It typically has a bright white rind with soft, pale yellow cheese inside.
What has made it turn brown?
Or what if the brie was brown when you bought it, could that be natural?
Let’s take a closer look at your brown brie!
If the brie turns brown, this may simply be a sign that the cheese is ripening. The rind on brie is typically white in color and is composed of mold, which continues to grow as the cheese ages. A few small brown patches do not necessarily indicate that the brie has gone off; it may still be safe to eat. However, if the brie has not only turned brown but smells of ammonia, it has gone bad and should not be consumed. Similarly, if the entire rind has turned brown, rather than having a few mottled patches, it should be discarded.
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 actually 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 actually freeze it for up to six months if wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
It should be thawed in the refrigerator prior to 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?
- 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
I hope you enjoyed this article; let me know if you would be prepared to eat brie that has turned brown.
And, if this has piqued your interest in brie, find out if you really are supposed to eat the rind!