Blue cheese is one of the most beloved types of cheese in the world. It’s known for its tangy, pungent flavor and the distinctive veins of blue mold that run through it. But how is blue cheese made? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the process of making blue cheese, from the milk to the aging process. You’ll learn about the different types of blue cheese, the methods used to create that tangy flavor, and even the health benefits of this unique cheese.
The Origin of Blue Cheese
The origins of blue cheese can be traced back to ancient times. While the exact origins of this cheese are unknown, historians believe that it was first discovered by accident. It’s said that a cheesemaker accidentally left some cheese out in a cave for too long, and the mold that grew on it turned it into what we know today as blue cheese.
Over time, the process of making blue cheese has been refined and perfected. Today, there are dozens of different types of blue cheese, each with its unique flavor, texture, and appearance.
The Process of Making Blue Cheese
Step 1: Milk Collection
The first step in making blue cheese is collecting the milk. This milk can come from cows, sheep, or goats, and it’s typically collected in large vats. Once the milk has been collected, it’s filtered to remove any impurities, then heated to kill any harmful bacteria.
Step 2: Adding Rennet
After the milk has been heated, rennet is added. Rennet is an enzyme that helps the milk coagulate, or thicken. Once the rennet has been mixed in, the milk is left to sit for several hours. During this time, the rennet causes the milk to separate into solids and liquid.
Step 3: Curdling
The next step in the process is curdling. The milk solids begin to clump together, forming what’s known as curds. The curds are then carefully cut or broken up to encourage more whey to drain off. The whey is the liquid that’s left over after the curds have formed.
Step 4: Draining
Once the curds have formed, they’re placed in cheesecloth and hung to drain. The length of time that the curds are drained will depend on the type of blue cheese that’s being made.
Step 5: Adding Penicillium Mold
The next step is to add the Penicillium mold that will give the cheese its distinctive blue veining. The mold is often mixed into the curds or sprayed onto the cheese. As the cheese ages, the mold will continue to grow, creating those characteristic blue veins.
Step 6: Aging Process
The final step in the process is the aging process. The cheese is left to age for several weeks or months, during which time the flavors will develop and intensify. Blue cheese can be aged in a variety of ways, including in a cave, in a specially-designed aging room, or even in a refrigerator.
The Different Types of Blue Cheese
There are many different types of blue cheese, each with its unique flavor profile. Some of the most popular types of blue cheese include:
- Maytag Blue
- Bleu d’Auvergne
Gorgonzola is a creamy, earthy cheese that’s made in Italy. It’s often used in salads or as a topping for pizza.
Roquefort is a crumbly, tangy cheese that’s made in France. It’s often served as a dessert cheese or as a topping for crackers.
Stilton is a rich, buttery cheese that’s made in the UK. It’s often used in savory dishes or as a topping for salads.
Maytag Blue is a tangy, piquant cheese that’s made in the US. It’s often used in burgers or as a topping for grilled meats.
Bleu d’Auvergne is a creamy, slightly salty cheese that’s made in France. It’s often used in cooking or as a table cheese.
The Secret Behind the Tangy Flavor of Blue Cheese
The tangy flavor of blue cheese comes from the Penicillium mold that’s added during the cheesemaking process. This mold produces a chemical called “roquefortine,” which is responsible for the cheese’s distinctive flavor. The longer the cheese is aged, the more intense the flavor will become.
How to Serve Blue Cheese
Blue cheese can be served in a variety of ways. It’s often crumbled and used as a topping for salads, pizzas, and burgers. It can also be served on a cheese board with crackers and fruit. Blue cheese pairs well with red wine, port, and certain types of beer, including stouts and IPAs.
The Health Benefits of Blue Cheese
In addition to being delicious, blue cheese also has some potential health benefits. It’s a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Studies have also shown that the Penicillium mold in blue cheese may have anti-inflammatory properties and could help boost the immune system.
FAQs About How Blue Cheese is Made
Q: Can Blue Cheese Be Made with Non-Dairy Milk?
A: While it’s technically possible to make blue cheese with non-dairy milk, the results are not always successful. Dairy milk contains specific proteins and enzymes that are necessary for the cheese-making process to work correctly, and these may be absent in non-dairy alternatives.
Q: Is It Safe to Eat Blue Cheese that Has Mold on the Outside?
A: It’s generally safe to eat blue cheese that has mold on the outside, as this is often just the natural growth of the Penicillium mold. However, if the mold has an unusual color or smell, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard the cheese.
Q: Can I Make Blue Cheese at Home?
A: While it’s possible to make blue cheese at home, it can be a challenging and time-consuming process, and the results are not always predictable. It’s usually best to leave blue cheese-making to the professionals.
Blue cheese is a uniquely delicious type of cheese, known for its tangy flavor and blue veins. The cheesemaking process is complex and involves several steps, from collecting the milk to aging the cheese. Different types of blue cheese have their unique flavor profiles, and blue cheese can be served in a variety of ways. If you’re a fan of blue cheese, try experimenting with different types and serving methods to find your perfect pairing.
- “How Blue Cheese is Made”. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 15 May 2021, from https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-blue-cheese-is-made-591011
- “Types of Blue Cheese”. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 15 May 2021, from https://www.thespruceeats.com/types-of-blue-cheese-591012
- “Blue Cheese Nutritional Information and Health Benefits”. Healthline. Retrieved 15 May 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/blue-cheese#nutrition