Several milestones make the cheesemaking process thrilling. The first time you get a curd, the first product that ages in your cheese cave, and the first bite you take from a successful recipe are all proud moments.
Another one that creates a buzz is when that white mold starts forming around your Brie or Camembert. That fluffy stuff looks gorgeous on the outside of the cheese, forming a blanket that says you’ve made a successful batch.
There are times when you don’t get the white mold on your Brie or Camembert, even if it seems like you’ve done everything right. When that thick blanket fails to appear, you haven’t made the cheese you thought.
Thankfully, the reasons why the white mold doesn’t form are relatively simple to correct. If you’ve encountered this issue on your latest attempt, here is what may have happened.
9 Common Reasons Why White Mold Fails to Form
You should start seeing the white mold form around your cheese within 96 hours of placing it in your aging area. It can start happening in as little as three days. If you’ve reached the fifth day of aging without seeing anything occur, one of these issues is likely the culprit.
1. It is too cold in your cheese cave.
White mold doesn’t form if the environment is too cold to support it. It would be best if you had the Brie or Camembert sitting in temperatures that hover around 12°C. It is better to be a little warmer than colder with your settings. It can be a tricky tightrope to navigate since the texture and flavor of your cheese can get disrupted if the ripening room is overly warm.
2. You don’t have enough salt on the cheese.
Salt applications on Brie or Camembert help white mold to grow because it inhibits the growth of others. It gives you the room needed for full development. You can use a brine solution, sprinkle the salt on the crust, or rub it lightly into the cheese. If you forgot this step or didn’t get enough on, that beautiful blanket won’t form – or worse, it develops the wrong color.
3. You used the wrong salt.
Cheese salt (kosher salt) is necessary when making Brie or Camembert. When you use standard table salt, the iodine in the product disrupts the mold growth. You’ll end up with salty cheese that doesn’t taste right. It acts as an antiseptic, which means it kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, and more when applied to the cheese.
Although most dairy products contain iodine, the cheesemaking process draws it out for Brie or Camembert. That’s why cheese salt is necessary.
4. The moisture levels in the aging area are incorrect.
White mold does not grow in conditions that are too wet. It will not develop correctly if your cheese cave is lower than the recommended humidity levels. That’s why most Brie or Camembert go through the aging process in containers that support healthy air flows. It would be best if you had the cheese to drain without contributing to excessive condensation.
If you forget to wipe up the extra fluid that comes out of the cheese each day, the white mold may not form correctly.
5. You didn’t add the culture at the appropriate level.
You must add Penicillium Candidum to your milk during the creation process where the recipe suggests. Without this culture, you don’t have a way to form the white blanket over the Brie or Camembert. Some cheesemakers prefer to spray the culture on the cheese once it gets built into the round shape. If you tried one method without success, consider using the other on your next attempt to see if it works better.
6. There is too much competition in the environment.
When unwanted molds have a chance to grow, they are typically more aggressive than what you want to have on the cheese. Removing the other colors can help the process considerably. Cross-contamination can be an issue in some aging environments, so you may want to create a specific container or area where the Brie or Camembert can develop naturally.
7. You are not flipping the cheese.
During the first couple of weeks during the aging process, Brie or Camembert must get flipped once per day. If you take care of this chore as part of your morning routine, it can help the white mold go through the development process. If you forget to turn the cheese over, the blanket may not form – or it might start growing on only one side.
It is only when the first mold layer forms entirely that you move to flip the cheese every other day.
8. You aren’t patting down the cheese when flipping it.
When you turn the Brie or Camembert over during the aging process, you must pat down whatever mold is present on the cheese. If you don’t take this step, the rind will form an inconsistent barrier.
You also need to take this step to prevent the mold from growing into your draining mats. If the blanket extends to the product, it will tear away from the cheese when flipping it.
9. You have too much whey left in the cheese.
When Brie or Camembert goes into aging containers with an abundance of whey still in the curd, enclosing the cheese creates humidity levels that are too high for the maturation process. This outcome creates the issue of slip skin. Ensuring that the cheese is dry before it goes into the container can help the overall process.
Brie and Camembert is a lot of fun to make as a home cheesemaker. When you get that beautiful white blanket to form for the first time, it reinforces the idea that this is what you were meant to do.