What is Gorgonzola cheese? Here’s the best guide to tell you everything you need to know about this cheese, the types there are, and how to use it in recipes.
Creamy with a burst of blue, Gorgonzola is a cheese that speaks volumes. From classic pairings to creative concoctions, Gorgonzola brings a touch of elegance to every dish.
But what is Gorgonzola cheese, and what sets it apart from the rest of the cheeses? Let’s find out here!
What is Gorgonzola Cheese?
Gorgonzola cheese, a blue cheese from Italy dating back hundreds of years, is believed to be named after the small town of Gorgonzola. The vibrant blue-green veins that run through its creamy, ivory-colored base set it apart. This is a result of the cheese’s aging process, which involves the introduction of specific molds.
Gorgonzola cheese’s production is closely regulated, particularly if it carries the DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designation. These labels are used to guarantee that products are locally produced, processed, and prepared in a specific region using traditional methods.
What is Gorgonzola Cheese made of?
Gorgonzola cheese is usually made from pasteurized cow’s milk, but sometimes it’s made with raw milk. The production process involves a few key steps as mentioned below:
- Milk collection. High-quality, fresh cow’s milk from local dairy farms serves as the primary ingredient for making Gorgonzola.
- Pasteurization (optional). While many Gorgonzolas are made from pasteurized milk to ensure safety, traditional methods sometimes embrace raw milk, giving the cheese a unique flavor.
- Curdling. By warming the milk and adding specific bacterial cultures and rennet, the milk thickens, forming curds.
- Cutting separation. The set curd is sliced into smaller chunks, facilitating the removal of whey, the liquid part. The curds are then drained.
- Mold introduction. To achieve Gorgonzola’s signature blue-green streaks, Penicillium mold spores (Penicillium glaucum or Penicillium roqueforti) are mixed into the curds.
- Molding and pressing. Curds are packed into specific molds, setting the cheese’s shape. The result can range from creamy to crumbly textures, depending on the variety.
- Salting. To enhance flavor and preserve the cheese, it’s either sprinkled with salt or soaked in a brine solution.
- Aging. Gorgonzola is aged in ventilated rooms or caves. While ‘Gorgonzola Dolce’ matures briefly, retaining a soft texture, ‘Gorgonzola Piccante’ ages longer, offering a crumbly and robust taste.
Types of Gorgonzola Cheese
Here are the two main types of Gorgonzola cheese, with differences in flavor and texture:
Gorgonzola Dolce (Sweet Gorgonzola)
Gorgonzola Dolce features a soft and creamy texture, making it spreadable. Its taste is milder and sweeter compared to Gorgonzola Piccante. This variety is aged for a shorter duration, typically around 2 to 3 months. The blue-green veins in Gorgonzola Dolce are more pronounced and evenly distributed throughout the cheese.
Gorgonzola Piccante (Sharp Gorgonzola)
Gorgonzola Piccante is firmer with a more granular texture. It has a stronger, more robust, and tangy flavor compared to Gorgonzola Dolce. This type is aged for a longer period, often around 6 months or more. The blue-green veins in Gorgonzola Piccante are typically more intense and can be irregularly distributed throughout the cheese.
What does Gorgonzola Cheese taste like?
Gorgonzola cheese offers a creamy, buttery flavor with hints of spice and earth, varying by its age and type. For instance, Gorgonzola Dolce has a smoother and milder taste, while Gorgonzola Piccante offers a more robust and pungent kick.
Gorgonzola Cheese vs. Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is a broad category that includes various blue-veined cheeses produced around the world. It can be made made from cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk.
Gorgonzola, especially its Dolce variety, often presents a milder and creamier profile compared to many other blue cheeses, which can range from sharp and salty to soft and buttery, depending on their specific type and origin.
While Gorgonzola is specifically tied to Italy, other blue cheeses hail from various countries, including France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Ways to use Gorgonzola Cheese
Here are the some popular ways to use Gorgonzola:
- Melting. Melt some Gorgonzola to create a creamy and flavorful sauce for pasta, risotto, or as a topping for grilled meats.
- Crumbled. Use crumbled Gorgonzola to add a tangy and creamy element to salads, pizzas, or stuffed into mushrooms.
- Spreading. Blend Gorgonzola with cream cheese or butter to create a flavorful spread for bread, crackers, or sandwiches.
- Stuffing. Incorporate Gorgonzola into stuffed chicken breasts, mushrooms, or other vegetables for a rich and savory filling.
- Pairing with fruits. Pair Gorgonzola with ripe pears, figs, or apples to create a classic combination of sweet and savory flavors.
Tips on storing Gorgonzola Cheese
Storing Gorgonzola cheese properly can help retain its flavor and extend its shelf life. Here are some tips:
- Refrigerate promptly at 35-45°F in its original packaging or wrap tightly in plastic.
- Keep it in a separate container or cheese drawer to prevent odor transfer. Cheese paper or parchment helps maintain its flavor and moisture.
- Avoid freezing, as it alters texture and taste. Keep an eye on it to make sure it’s fresh and you’re good to go!
- Bonus tip from Hook’s Cheese Company: If you want to keep Gorgonzola cheese fresh for more than 3-4 weeks after opening, wrap it in parchment or wax paper and store it in a sealed container or bag in the fridge.
The bottom line
Gorgonzola cheese is an Italian classic, captivating many with its distinct flavor and creamy texture. Whether crumbled on salads, melted into sauces, or savored on a cheese board with fruits and nuts, Gorgonzola truly stands out. If you haven’t yet experienced its rich taste, it’s high time to try this cheese variety and explore its range of pairing possibilities.