Camembert-Style Cheese

I am very happy to say that we have been enjoying some home made cheeses at last! I’ve been making several kinds, but the one I’ve made most often so far is a camembert-style cheese, also known as coulommiers. That’s the kind of cheese I’m going to write about today. I thought I’d share a detailed recipe in case anyone else is curious or wants to have a go at making some.

Home made camembert cheese

I have made this kind of cheese fairly often because it requires less milk, and is less labour-intensive than most of the other kinds of cheese I’ve been making. It only needs to ripen for one to two weeks before eating, and we find the result delicious!

Please don’t be put off by the long list of equipment below. You’ll probably most of the stuff in your kitchen already, and the rest can be obtained very cheaply. In New Zealand, starters and other cheese-making supplies are available online from “Curds and Whey” or “Cottage Crafts.”

Equipment needed:

*Gas or electric element

*Tea towel (good to have tea towels that you wash separately and keep solely for cheese making)

*Stainless steel double boiler (doesn’t have to be good quality, non copper bottoms are fine. Be inventive with combinations of pots and buckets.)

*Medicine measuring cup (available from pharmacy)

*Stainless steel skimmer or slotted spoon


*Glass thermometer (Sold by Kowhai Cheese, Curds and Whey, or kitchen hardware shops sell candy thermometers)

*Bucket (for putting sterilised water into)

*Cheese mat (you can use shade cloth or sushi mats as cheaper options)

*Molds (You can poke drainage holes in tupperware containers or sections of pipe for these. I’ve also heard of people drilling holes in sections cut from large stalks of bamboo. I’d love to try making some of these!)

*Draining rack

*Wine fridge, ice packs and cooler box, or cellar for keeping cheese at correct temperature

*Steriliser tablets (baby bottle steriliser tablets) optional


3 litres whole milk (I use fresh raw milk)

3 ml rennet diluted in 3ml boiled and cooled water (I use calf rennet)

A few grains of Flora Danica starter culture

A very tiny amount of Penicillum Candidum starter culture

Salt (not iodised)


Day One:

Before you start: Ensure all equipment is sterile. Most home cheese making failures are caused by unsterile equipment or mishandling of the milk. Either soak equipment in boiling water for 5 minutes or in hot water that has been treated with steriliser tablets. I half fill a 9 litre bucket with hot water and add a steriliser tablet. All equipment is treated with this liquid before it touches the milk or cheese.

Milk in water bath

Skimming out layers of curd

1. In a water bath, heat the milk to 31 degrees C. Stir gently with whisk to ensure even heating

2. Sprinkle the starter cultures onto the surface of the milk and stir in thoroughly.

3. Add diluted rennet to the milk and stir gently but thoroughly for one or two minutes.

4. Cover with a tea towel and leave for about half an hour for the curd to set.

5. Place mould(s) on cheese mat.

6. Using a stainless steel skimmer or slotted spoon, skim thin layers of curd from the pot and gently lower them into the mould. Continue until the mould is filled to the top. The thinner the layers of curd, the faster the cheese will drain.

7. Cover with a tea towel and leave to drain overnight.

Day 2:

Curd has reduced

Ready to age

1. When the curd has reduced to about half of its original size, it should be firm enough to turn out onto a second cheese mat.

2. Sprinkle salt on all surfaces of the cheese.

3. Age the cheese on a rack in a cool place (about 45 degrees F) at about 80-90% humidity, turning every couple of days.

4. Once it is ready to eat, wrap the cheese in wax paper or cheese wrap and keep it in the fridge.

For aging the cheese, it would be very nice to have a wine fridge or cellar at the right temperature. I don’t, so here’s what I do: put the cheeses on a rack in an ice chest (chilly bin) with a couple of ice packs. I use 2 ice packs for a large ice chest, and change one each morning and one each evening. (I need to have 3 ice packs to do this, so that one can be in the freezer.) So far, this method seems to be working out fine.

This cheese can be eaten after about a week, at which time it will have a milder taste and less white mould. For a stronger cheese covered in a thick growth of white mould, age for about 2 weeks.

We love to eat this cheese on sourdough crackers or bread. Kevin prefers to eat it after about one week, while I prefer to have it aged longer. Needless to say, Owen is very fond of some of our home made cheeses as well. I’ve also been experimenting with feta (cow’s milk feta), soft cheese and gouda, so will be writing about those in due course.

Owen sits on his sheep pelt and devours the raw milk cheese

Sources: This cheese recipe is based on the one in Ricki Carroll’s “Home Cheese Making,” plus another recipe that a friend passed on to me. I think the recipe from my friend may be from Katherine Mowbray’s book, which you can buy from her “Kowhai Cheese” website. (Katherine Mowbray is famous in New Zealand cheese-making circles for her fabulous cheese-making classes.) The equipment list and notes on hygiene come from my friend and cheese-making teacher, Natalie.

25 Responses to “Camembert-Style Cheese”

  1. Robin says:

    That is absolutely spectacular. I am completely impressed. what a joy it must be to bite into your very own home made camembert.

  2. risa b says:

    Looks good! I’m saving your instructions …

  3. Bridget says:

    Hi Becky
    Thanks for sharing, great to have some clear instructions and photos on homemade cheese making. It looks and sounds delicious.
    Do you know whether the results would be just as good with pasteurised whole milk (but not homogenised)? I don’t have access to raw milk just yet.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Hi Bridget,
    There are some cheese buffs out there who say that cheese will never be quite as good without raw milk. Still, I’ve seen plenty of camembert recipes just like this calling for pasteurised whole milk, and I’m sure it comes out delicious.
    Good luck,

  5. Peter says:

    Wonderful article. Thank you for sharing!

    You can make any cheese from supermarket milk but it will taste different. There are some tips and tricks how to improve supermarket milk but you need to add additives etc.

    The fun in cheese making is to experiment!



  6. Natalie says:

    Oh this is my favourite of all your posts. I’m so excited that you’re on to a winner.
    Your camembert has bean on my mind and started me thinking….. in ‘Wild Fermentation’ Sandor talks about using kefir or yoghurt as the culture in cheese.
    I’d like to try kefir. While fermenting my kefir if I leave it too long or don’t stir it enough, gets a thin white mould on top simular to camembert. 9does this happen to yours? maybe mine has picked something up)
    When this happens I just mix it up and still drink it, so it’s not a problem. It doesn’t seem to have done me any harm yet.
    But I’m wondering if the kefir contaminated with this mould could be used to make a cemembert style cheese and whether it would grow a white mould by itself without the Penicillum.
    One of the winners in this years cheese awards was a lady who makes a georgian cheese from a kefir starter. The judges loved it…..Hmmm food for thought.

  7. waitawa farm says:

    Great clear instructions and photos, thanks for posting

  8. Kylie says:

    My kefir also gets that thin white feathery mould on mine.. Also not sure what it is.

  9. Chris says:

    I love you! I having been searching for just this set of instructions for ages! I’m so happy…thank you thank you thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. Chris says:

    Oh, in my exuberance, I forgot to ask. What is the process for getting the mold/rind on the cheese? I saw in the ingredients where you have the Penicillum Candidum starter culture listed, but I didn’t see what to do with it. Thanks so much! I appreciate it 🙂

  11. Rebecca says:

    Hi All,
    Thanks for the comments and feedback.
    @Natalie: You have really got me thinking with the kefir idea. I don’t think the white mould/skin on top of the kefir is contamination, by the way. I’m almost positive that I read somewhere that it’s a normal feature of the culture. Mine gets it too if I don’t stir it. I see some fascinating cheese experiments in our future!
    @Chris: Step 2 covers adding the Penicillum Candidum culture to the cheese. Just sprinkle it on top of the warmed milk at the same time that you are adding the Flora Danica and stir it in well. The rest takes care of itself. I love how simple this is and hope you do too!

  12. Chris says:

    Oh interesting Rebecca. I didn’t realize you were talking about both cultures. Thanks so much :)I can’t wait to try this!

  13. Peter says:

    Hi Chris, the two cultures work at different temperatures. Flora Danica needs 25 – 35 degrees Celsius to reproduce and create the bacteria and Penicillium Candidum works at 8 – 20 degrees Celsius. So if you think about the process a cheese goes through you can imagine when the cultures kick in! You just have to be careful not to add cultures which love colder temperatures at a stage where your curd is too “hot”. This can kill the bacteria. But we home cheese makers usually add too much of the cultures because we can not measure the tiny amounts we would actually need. So the risk of getting too many “casualties” is most of the time small.

  14. Penny says:

    Hi I made two Camembert cheeses last Saturday, but now its Thursday and I can’t see any white mold starting to grow. I followed Ricki Caroll’s recipe. I think maybe where I have had them is too cold (only about 6 degrees c) do you think if I put them in a slightly warmer place they will start to grow the mold or should I just start again? Thanks for any advice you might have.

  15. mike says:

    Hi, I see this is an old post, but I’ve had a similar situation with my kefir getting camembert-style mould on it and have unintentionally made camembert-style cheese out of it. Hard to say whether it’s from the kefir itself or just as likely that it was floating around my fridge, anyhow it did soften out the cheese and didn’t make me sick 🙂

  16. Elaine says:

    A good cheese making Description. Have read the comments re using Homogenised milk and wondered what you have to do to it to make more usable. I think it is something to do with adding Calcium chloride to help with the setting. Is this correct and can any body help me out with this and is it sn essential thing to do. I am new to cheese making and hoping to have a go very soon however I do not have access to fresh Cows milk. Many thanks

  17. Wendy Pearson says:

    I am a real starter! Where do I get Flora Danica and Penicillin Candidum? Would love to have a go at doing this.

  18. Jenny Swanson says:

    I have just started making cheese using cow’s milk. A neighbor has a lovely Jersey cow that gives us plenty of creamy milk. I still have some Flora Danica culture left in my freezer from making goat’s milk feta. Do you know if I can use this culture in place of the mesophilic culture to make a Fromage Blanc cheese with cow milk? I have Ricki Carroll’s book but it only has Flora Danica listed with the goat recipes.
    I do not have a facility to make your lovely recipe but it sounds delicious.
    I am very excited to be making cheese again after a year without homemade goat’s cheese. The Fromage Blanc in Ricki’s book is very good using her packets but I wanted to experiment a bit since the packets cost more then making a home culture.
    Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for sharing your recipes with others.
    Enjoy! Jenny Swanson in Oregon, USA.

  19. Patricia Rose says:

    Hello. I have just found your lovely simple recipe, and can’t wait to try it. The camembert recipe I’ve used previously is so very fiddly.

    Could you please clarify one point for me: after I add the rennet and cover it, while it is sitting for 30 minutes do I need to keep it at 30 degrees, or can it sit and cool to room temperature?

    Many thanks

  20. Penny says:

    Hi there, this looks fab. A couple of questions, does it need to be a glass thermometer and where would i find rennet? I live in auckland.

  21. wayne says:

    hi ,how many cheese moulds does this fill please

  22. Lindsey says:

    THis was such an interesting site – can’t believe it suddenly stopped, but can I reply to some people who didn’t seem to get answers?
    Wayne, we use this quantity of (fresh)cow’s milk and at this time of year, 3 litres makes 2 camemberts.
    Penny, rennet is available at the supermarket, although we do find the Mad Millie one better (they have a website that you can buy all sorts of things through. We use a long metal thermometer that clips onto the side of our 12 litre saucepan.
    Patricia, Ricky Carrolls book says to keep the milk at 30,32 degrees while it is ripening. It is very easy to do by putting it in a sink of hot water for a very short time and watching the temp.
    Wendy – if you are in NZ or Aus, you can buy the flora danica and penicillin through the Mad Millie website. We are in Nelson and I buy through Mapua Country Trading, who also have a website and sell over the internet, deliver via courier, and I have just bought some things through Urban Cheese website – a lot of their stuff is Mad Millie’s. You can try Bin Inn if you ahve one – their stuff is Mad Millie as well

  23. Anne says:

    Hi there
    I’ve made my first batch of the camembert style cheese and have loved the simplicity of this method, looking forward to the results – next week. My first cheese making was using a yoghurt “mother” culture while on a course with Simon Domper at Norsewood, we made soft and hard cheese and even cultured butter!! Great fun as well.

    I now make small quantities of camembert at home using raw organic milk, cultures from Over the Moon at Putaruru (NZ Cheese Making School?), have had the cultures in the freezer for nearly a year now and are working still. The brie/camembert mix is combined with penicillin so you don’t need to measure two small quantities.

    My moulds are NZ produced Systema beetroot or pickle storage containers (with internal draining insert that works well for draining cheese), I lift the internal drainage bit with small skewers poked through the first level of holes.

    Thanks for a great site, will go through some of your other posts.


  24. PjT says:

    well done…the cheese cave as per your instructions, is working a treat..first lot of camembert is moulding nicely…

  25. Henk says:

    After what time frame should the white mould start to appear?