How Blue Cheese is Made
Blue cheese gets its color and veiny appearance by the addition of a mold from the genus penicillium family. It can be made from cows milk, goats milk or both. Both related to the life saving antibiotic, Penicillium Roqueforti and Penicillium Glaucum are both used in production. Blue cheese is characteristically sharp tasting, strong-smelling and slightly salty. Famous blue cheeses include Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton and Cabrales.
The Penicillium Roquefort mold and Roquefort Blue cheeses come from a beautiful French town. In the past, as it was first made in 1070 AD, the mold was obtained from caves. Gorgonzola cheese was first made in 879 AD and Stilton in the 18th century.
In the Roquefort region, cheese makers historically left loaves of rye bread in the caves to become a host to the mold. The bread would then be ground and added during the cheese making process. After the cheese was made it would then be stored in the caves to finish the aging process.
Today, some cheese makers use commercially made freeze-dried penicillium. The cultures are added in the third stage of cheese making. In stage one, known as precipitation, the milk turns into curds and is then concentrated in the second stage, when the whey is removed then ripened. Ripening, or stage three, is where the cultures are introduced to the cheese. Needling then takes place, which is a process whereby the cheese is injected with tiny holes to allow air into the cheese to assist the growth of the mold.
In Roquefort, Europe, Gorgonzola and Stilton are protected designation of origin. Since 1411, in order for the cheese to be called Roquefort, it must be produced in that specific region following strict traditional standards.
Blue cheeses are recognized as some of the Worlds finest cheeses. With its unqiue taste it adds bold character to many dishes.
Tips for Using Blue Cheese:
- Add to salads with apple and chopped nuts
- Make a white wine and garlic sauce with crumbled blue cheese to add to steak
- Make a blue cheese dip
- Add blue cheese into your hamburger patties
- Add blue cheese into your lasagna
- Serve with fresh figs and prosciutto
However you decide to use your blue cheese, be sure to savor this Ancient delicacy and dream of the mystical French caves where it was first made!