Blue cheese is a general classification of cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk chees that have had cultures of the mold Penicillium added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell, either from that or various specially cultivated bacteria. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form and others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave. Blue cheese can be eaten by itself or can be crumbled or melted into or over foods.
In the European Union, many blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Blue Stilton carry a protected designation of origin, meaning they can bear the name only if they have been made in a particular region in a certain country. Similarly, individual countries have protections of their own such as France’s Appellation d’Origine Controlee and Italy’s Denominazione di Origine Protetta. Blue cheeses with no protected origin name are designated simply “blue cheese”. Our blue cheese is this type of cheese.
The characteristic flavor of blue cheeses tends to be sharp and salty. The smell of this food is due both to the mold and to types of bacteria encouraged to grow on the cheese: for example, the bacterium Brevibacterium linens is responsible for the smell of many blue cheeses.
Blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident, when cheeses were stored in naturally temperature and moisture controlled caves, which happened to be favorable environments for many varieties of harmless mold. Roquefort is mentioned in texts as far back as 79 AD. Gorgonzola is one of the oldest known blue cheeses, having been created around 879 AD, though it is said that it did not actually contain blue veins until around the 11th century. Stilton is a relatively new addition becoming popular sometime in the early 18th century. Many varieties of blue cheese that originated subsequently such as Danablu and Cambozola were an attempt to fill the demand for Roquefort-style cheeses that were prohibitive due to either cost or politics.
Our Italian Blue cheese from Italy features rich blue veins that add a full-bodied, assertive flavor that is on the mild side (compared to Gorgonzola or Valdeon) but still piquant. Pairs well with a late harvest Resling or try a full-bodied and fruity California Zinfandel if your blue is salty. Be sure to visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FloridaCheeseClub.
Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
4 oz crumbled Blue cheese
1 tbsp shallots OR onion, finely diced
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Water – to thin out to desired consistency
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and blend to desired consistency. Toss with your favorite salad greens.