I was listening to a program on Radio NZ where the broadcaster claimed that apart from size there was no difference? It's almost like today we put a brie label on and tomorrow a camembert one. Is this the case world wide or only in in NZ?
They are both soft-ripened cheese, and there are certainly many similarities, but they are by no means the same.
- Camembert is aged at least 3 weeks; Brie may be aged as little as 1 week.
- Brie is generally drained for 18 hours; Camembert is drained for 48 hours.
- Brie may be salted before aging; Camembert is not.
- Brie is more often pasteurized than Camembert (although "genuine" Brie is unpasteurized).
That said, there are many different varieties of Brie and many different varieties of Camembert, and it wouldn't be too surprising to find at least one Brie that tastes exactly like another Camembert. Still, they are quite different - different moulds, different draining, different aging.
The real difference is the surface area to volume ratio. While both come in different sizes, Brie is generally less thick compared to a Camembert of the same diameter. This results in a different breakdown in the middle of the cheese. The enzymes that break down the cheese get much further into the middle (usually all the way) in a Brie. In many Camembert you can see a line of discoloration which is as far as the enzymes have penetrated.
If you by the cheap commercial stuff, there's no discernible difference. If you're buying high end, then you can tell the difference.
I'm not clear on the no different except the size comment. In the US where I occasionally buy Brie and Camembert they are basically made in the same sizes and packaged either in cut wedges about an inch thick or in small cylinders. I had the same size and packaging experiences traveling in France, Switzerland, and Austria.
They have similar ingredients, difference recipes, and taste different. It seems like they ought not to be thought of as "no different."