The Type Of Cheese You Should Be Careful Refrigerating

There is an amusing little anecdote that, in its way, perfectly sums up the French. Former French President Charles de Gaulle is quoted as saying about his beloved yet unruly constituents, "How can you govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" Since he uttered those words in 1962, France has, in the intervening years, upped that to over 1600 varieties of cheese, per Cheese Connoisseur. The quote, then, is a testament to France's unwillingness to be anything but French and their passion for their dairy products.

Like the wide-ranging diversity in Irish farmhouse cheeses, French cheeses differ from town to town, region to region. For example, according to Culture Cheese Magazine, Roquefort is made from the milk of the sheep that graze the Midi-Pyrenees. One quality the French love in their cheeses is the creaminess of varieties like camembert and brie (via Paris Insiders Guide). Both cheeses are encased in natural rinds and have smelly, gooey interiors bursting with wonderfully complex flavor. However, there's good reason to be cautious when refrigerating these cheeses if you want to taste them at their best.

The refrigerator will dull the flavor of creamy cheeses

Camembert and brie are what's known as double or triple cream cheeses. According to The Cheese Professor, double and triple cream cheese originated in Normandy during the 1850s, where they became symbols of luxury and decadence. For a cheese to be considered such, it must be made entirely from cow's milk and contain a butterfat content of between 60% to 75%. Notable characteristics of these cheeses include their spongy rinds and oozy interiors.

Though we tend to refrigerate our dairy products, these cheeses are best kept at room temperature. According to Food & Wine, the rind on the cheese acts as a protective membrane that keeps the inside safe from the outside environment while also allowing the cheese to develop flavor. The cold temperatures of the refrigerator mute the innate characteristics of the cheese, which is aged in an open-air environment. To benefit from all the textural and flavor nuances of the cheese, you should leave it out on the counter. 

However, this only applies to cheeses that are whole and uncut. If you purchase a half or a wedge of brie, in which the inside of the cheese is exposed, it needs to be refrigerated owing to the lack of protection usually provided by the rind. However, you should still bring it to room temperature for a little while before serving it.