Are you a cheese lover who is looking for a new and exciting flavor to spice up your dishes?
Do you want to learn more about one of the most versatile and delicious cheeses in the world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this blog post is for you!
In this post, we will explore the wonderful world of blue cheese, a type of cheese that has a distinctive blue or green mold running through it.
We will cover the history, production, varieties, health benefits, and culinary uses of blue cheese, as well as some tips on how to store and enjoy it.
By the end of this post, you will be a blue cheese expert and ready to try it for yourself!
What is blue cheese and how is it made?
Blue cheese is a general term for cheeses that have been inoculated with cultures of Penicillium, a type of mold that produces blue or green veins in the cheese.
The mold gives the cheese a very harp, tangy, and sometimes spicy flavor, as well as a crumbly or creamy texture.
The origin of this cheese is not clear, but some legends say that it was discovered by accident when cheese was stored in caves that had natural mold spores. The first recorded mention of blue cheese dates back to the 8th century in France, where Roquefort, one of the most famous blue cheeses, was made.
To make blue cheese, milk (usually cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s) is heated and curdled with rennet, an enzyme that separates the solid curds from the liquid whey. The curds are then drained and cut into pieces, which are salted and inoculated with Penicillium cultures.
The cheese is then pressed into molds and aged in a cool and humid environment, where the mold grows and develops the characteristic veins.
The aging process can take from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of blue cheese.
What are the different types of blue cheese?
There are many different types of blue cheese, each with its own name, origin, flavor, and texture.
Some of the most popular ones are:
- Roquefort: A French cheese made from sheep’s milk, with a creamy, crumbly, and moist texture and a strong, salty, and pungent flavor. It is aged in natural limestone caves near the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
- Gorgonzola: An Italian blue cheese made from cow’s milk, with a soft, spreadable, and buttery texture and a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor. It can be either dolce (sweet) or piccante (spicy), depending on the aging time.
- Stilton: A British cheese made from cow’s milk, with a firm, dry, and crumbly texture and a rich, complex, and slightly bitter flavor. It is produced in only six dairies in England and has a protected designation of origin (PDO) status.
- Danish Blue: A Danish cheese made from cow’s milk, with a semi-soft, creamy, and smooth texture and a mild, slightly sour, and salty flavor. It is also known as Danablu or Danablue.
- Cabrales: A Spanish cheese made from cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk, or a blend of them, with a hard, compact, and granular texture and a strong, spicy, and acidic flavor. It is aged in natural caves in the Picos de Europa mountains.
What is your favorite?
We are definitely going for stilton!
If you are ever in London, go visit Neal’s Yard Dairy for the best choice of cheeses.
Our favorite cheesemonger!
What are the health benefits of blue cheese?
Blue cheese is not only delicious but also nutritious.
It is a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. It also contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can improve your gut health and immune system.
However, this particular cheese also has some drawbacks.
It is high in calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol, which can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke if consumed in excess. It may also trigger allergic reactions or intolerances in some people who are sensitive to mold or dairy products.
Therefore, it is important to enjoy blue cheese in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
How to use it in cooking
Blue cheese is a versatile ingredient that can add flavor and texture to many dishes.
Here are some ideas on how to use it in cooking:
- Salad: Crumble some blue cheese over your favorite salad greens and toss with a simple vinaigrette dressing for a quick and easy salad. It also goes very well with fresh pears and walnuts.
- Pasta: Melt some blue cheese with cream and butter and pour over cooked pasta for a powerful but very creamy and decadent sauce.
- Pizza: Sprinkle the cheese over pizza dough and top with tomato sauce and your choice of toppings for a cheesy and savory pizza.
- Soup: Blend some blue cheese with chicken broth and potatoes and simmer until smooth for a hearty and warming soup. It also tastes great in a creamy cauliflower soup.
- Sandwich: Spread the cheese on bread and layer it with ham, slices pears and lettuce for a delicious and filling sandwich.
- Steak: Crumble some blue cheese over grilled steak and drizzle with balsamic vinegar for a mouthwatering and elegant dish.
How to store and enjoy blue cheese
To store the cheese, wrap it tightly in wax paper or tinfoil and keep it in the refrigerator.
It can last for up to a month, depending on the type of cheese you bought. You can also freeze it for up to six months, but it may lose some of its flavor and texture.
To enjoy blue cheese, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving and let it come to room temperature. This will enhance its aroma and taste. You can serve the cheese on its own or with crackers, bread, fruit, nuts, honey or wine.
Experiment with different combinations and find your favorite!
How to know if blue cheese has gone bad?
You can gauge the freshness of blue cheese by using your senses.
If you notice unusual mold colors, excessive mold growth, textures that deviate from the norm, off-putting smells, or flavors that are significantly different, the cheese may have spoiled.
Also, inspect the packaging for damage.
Trust your intuition, and if something seems off, it is safer to discard the cheese to prevent any potential health concerns.
Keep in mind that blue cheese is a type of cheese that already contains molds that are intentionally introduced during the cheesemaking process. These molds contribute to the cheese’s unique flavor and appearance.
However, if you notice any significant changes beyond what is typical for this cheese, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard the cheese to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses.
If in doubt, trust your senses and prioritize your health and safety.
Why do people often hate blue cheese?
People’s preferences for food can vary widely due to a combination of factors, including taste, smell, texture and cultural influences.
Here are a few reasons why some people might not enjoy blue cheese:
- Strong Flavor: Blue cheese has a very distinctive and strong flavor profile due to the presence of mold cultures that create its characteristic blue or green veins. The flavor can be sharp, tangy, and even slightly pungent, which might be overpowering or off-putting to individuals who prefer milder tastes.
- Mold Sensitivity: Some people are sensitive to the specific molds used in the production of blue cheese. While these molds are safe to consume for most people, those with mold allergies or sensitivities might experience adverse reactions or discomfort after consuming blue cheese.
- Smell: It has a strong and sometimes pungent odor, which can be overwhelming for individuals who are particularly sensitive to smells. The aroma of blue cheese is often associated with its flavor, so the smell alone might discourage some people from trying it.
- Texture: Blue cheese can have a crumbly, creamy, or even gooey texture, depending on the type. Texture preferences play a significant role in whether someone enjoys a particular cheese. Some individuals might not enjoy the texture of blue cheese in their mouths.
- Cultural Factors: Taste preferences are influenced by cultural background, upbringing, and exposure to certain foods. Blue cheese is and will always be acquired taste for many, and if someone wasn’t introduced to it early on or hasn’t had positive experiences with it, they might be less inclined to develop a liking for it.
- Personal Taste: Ultimately, personal taste is subjective, and not everyone’s palate is the same. Some people are simply not fond of strong or complex flavors, and blue cheese’s unique characteristics might not align with their preferences.
Taste preferences are diverse, and what one person dislikes, another might enjoy.
If you are introducing blue cheese to someone who hasn’t tried it before, it is a good idea to start with milder varieties or incorporate it into dishes where its flavor can be balanced with other ingredients.