A Tale of Two Camembert

December 08, 2023 2 min read

A Tale of Two Camembert
Authenticity is a tricky subject in cheese. Is the cheese made in the same region for hundreds of years, despite the company being large and equipped with modern kit, more authentic than a similar cheese, set up more recently, and with the backing of a major dairy industry insider?
The two camemberts we work with are a good example. Camembert’s history owes a lot to its characteristic wooden box, which was invented in 1902 and enabled this soft cheese to travel well beyond its native Normandy. It was even included in the ration packs of French soldiers in the First World War. The success of the box led to a huge expansion in production in the region, and the eventual demise of Camembert as a farmhouse cheese.

It wasn’t the end of the farming traditions of the region, however, which were preserved even as the cheesemaking in the region grew. Reaux, producers of our Camembert de Normandie, work with over 60 local farmers, each with herds a fraction of the size of a typical British dairy herd. They pay their farmers a premium for high bacterial activity in the milk, as it is that activity which enables them to add only a tiny amount of starter to produce the cheese – the majority of the bacteria that create the flavour in the cheese come from the milk itself, delivering a wonderful range of flavours, from oysters and mussels to mushrooms and garlic.

By contrast, our Farmhouse Camembert is a recent creation, from Xavier Cassigneul and his partner, Edouard le Meur. Both veterans of larger scale Camembert production, they set their hearts on restoring Camembert as a farmhouse cheese. With a herd of 115 Normande cows, they started production in 2021, and started to win awards for their glorious cheese just seven months later. It’s a fabulous cheese, with a slightly looser texture and a flavour profile that delivers lovely garlic and onion flavours.

The box that helped to give Camembert its great success continues to make it an incredibly versatile cheese, as at home packed in to a summer picnic as it is at the centre of your Christmas cheese board.

We look forward to sharing the joys of two Camemberts, both with a serious sense of place, for many years to come.