Are you here to get a few answers about your favorite tangy, rich, blue cheese? So, what is blue cheese? We did a little digging and came up with a few answers for you.
So you love blue cheese. But how is blue cheese made?
Some people dread eating blue cheese for fear it might contain toxins and cause sickness.
Contrary to this belief, the mold used in making blue cheese is safe for consumption.
Well-known varieties include French Roquefort, English Stilton, and Italian Gorgonzola.
Blue cheese is best with fruits and nuts and can mix well with other types of cheese. Garnish it into dressings, sauces, soups, or use as toppings on salads.
What is blue cheese
Blue cheese is a type of cheese that allegedly originated way back to the 7th century.
According to the legend, a shepherd accidentally invented blue cheese after he left his lunch of bread and cheese in a cave.
When he returned to the cave, he discovered that his cheese was covered with a common fungus found widespread in nature.
Today blue cheese production involves the addition of refined mold culture to the cheese milk and “needling,” a process wherein thin needles or skewers are pierced into the cheese to allow the air in, encouraging the mold to spread and then resulting in the distinctive blue veins in blue cheese.
Cheesemakers also add salt to the cheeses to prevent spoilage, and let them age for one to six months.
Generally, blue cheese has a salty and strong, sharp taste with a pungent aroma. However, this may vary depending on its variety.
Other kinds of blue cheese sold in the market today sometimes feature creamy and mildly earthy flavor profiles with a soft texture.
For the record, some of the well-known blue cheese types are Gorgonzola, Castello creamy blue, Roquefort, Danish blue, and Stilton.
Blue cheese is often present on cheese boards, alongside fruits and nuts, and used to elevate the taste of salads, pasta dishes, and sauces.
What does blue cheese taste like?
When it comes to blue cheese taste, it has a salty and sharp flavor with a pungent aroma.
However, this flavor profile varies depending on the type of blue cheese you’ve purchased.
Gorgonzola blue cheese has a soft textural nuance with a buttery and creamy flavor when “young,” while the aged version of the cheese tends to have an earthier and stronger flavor.
Meanwhile, one of the oldest blue cheeses, Roquefort has a creamy texture with a sharp and sweet flavor profile.
Whether crumbled and stirred into dressing, seared on top of steak, or roasted on top of vegetables, blue cheese has a strong tangy flavor first, with a smooth, creamy finish.
How is blue cheese made?
As mentioned, blue cheese is made from pasteurized cow, goat, or sheep’s milk that’s cured with cultures of the mold, penicillium roqueforti.
The making process starts by pasteurizing the milk to kill any harmful bacteria and then undergoing a homogenization process to break out the fats, giving the cheese a smooth and creamy texture.
Once done, the bacterial culture begins.
This process converts the natural sugar of the milk into lactic acid then eventually turns the product into cheese.
Blue cheese gets its signature blue color by adding mold, penicillium roqueforti.
No, blue cheese won’t cure any conditions, it’s not that kind of penicillin. 💊
After that, an enzyme called rennet is added to the mixture to make the milk curdle to the consistency of yogurt.
Once the curdling is done, the milk separates into curds and whey.
The mixture then undergoes more than an hour of stirring until the curd is firm enough to be taken from the mix.
The curds are then transferred into a circular fold and salted to prevent spoilage.
Once the cheese is firm and flavored, it undergoes “needling,” a process wherein thin needles or stainless steel rods are pierced into the cheese to allow the air in.
This essential procedure encourages the mold to spread, which eventually results in the distinctive blue veins in blue cheese.
The cheese is then gone through a ripening process wherein the dairy product is kept in a room with a 46 to 50°F temperature for about a month or up to six months.
The longer it ripens, the deeper the flavor.
How to store blue cheese
Like any other type of cheese, blue cheese does go bad. But don’t be sad, as there’s a great way to extend its shelf life even further—storing blue cheese in the refrigerator!
To do it, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Wrap your blue cheese in cheese paper or beeswax wrap.
- Place the wrapped cheese in a more humid section of your fridge. Storing this way prevents the cheese from drying out.
Blue cheese stored at room temperature on the kitchen counter, will last only a couple of days.
Meanwhile, if properly stored in the refrigerator, you can enjoy the cheese for up to four weeks.
Blue cheese that has become inedible has a fuzzy mold on the surface, visually differing from the veins of blue mold that were added in a clean, controlled environment by the cheesemaker. Expired blue cheese looks dull, crumbles have become solid and often dry, and it no longer has a strong but cheesy aroma, instead the offensive waft of “bad” food.
Pro tip: Bring your refrigerated cheese to room temperature for about an hour before serving it.
Can you freeze blue cheese?
Yes, it’s possible to freeze blue cheese. But keep in mind that the longer it stays in the freezer, the texture of the cheese won’t be as good as the fresh one.
Frozen blue cheese tends to have a crumbly and grainy texture, however, freezing blue cheese can extend its storage life for up to six months.
How to use blue cheese
There are a few ways to use and enjoy blue cheese, including toppings for soup, steak and salads, in dressing, and stuffed into green olives!
Blue cheese is a versatile ingredient that’s best suited to stand out on its own on cheese boards, thanks to its nice flavors and textural nuances.
Blue cheese can be broken into smaller pieces and blended with mayonnaise and sour cream to create a creamy salad dressing like my beloved version of the blue cheese dressing.
You’d also love using blue cheese alongside red or sparkling wine to unlock a fuller flavor on your palate.
Or pair the cheese with whole-grain crackers, marcona almonds, or dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, fresh figs, and pears.
What’s more, you can incorporate blue cheese flavor to your favorite steak dish by crumbling a good blue onto the meat as it sears.
How to eat blue cheese? Serve and enjoy as it is, too.
The bottom line
Now we know a lot more about blue cheese and how it’s best paired with our favorite dishes to add and enhance flavor.
Blue cheese has a lot of excellent uses.
Sprinkle it over salads or soups (a teaspoon added to homemade tomato soup is -chef’s kiss- so good!) to make them even tastier.
You can also pair it with wine such as the Port Stilton or any red wine and experience for yourself a delectable meal.
Perhaps an unexpected surprise, you may be delighted at how perfectly it pairs with dark chocolate and a handful of sweet, juicy berries.
- ½ c plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 c mayonnaise
- ½ c crumbled blue cheese
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 length of green onions
- 1 T of milk or half-and-half (only as preferred)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Finely chop the white and green parts and add to a small bowl.
- Combine all ingredients with the onion and mix well.
- Serve immediately as needed; chilled for at least three hours is better.
- Serve with your choice of side like chips, fries, salad, or chicken wings.
- Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.