Most distinguished, and with the longest traditions, are the French ewe’s-milk Roquefort, English Blue Stilton, and Italian Gorgonzola.
But several European countries.The United States, make blue cheeses from cow’s, ewe’s, and goat’s milk (whole or semi-skimmed), using a penicillum fungus,
Either the Roquefort or Gorgonzola strain, to induce veining. Flavors range from forceful to delicate, textures from hard and crumbly to creamy, while rinds can vary from hard to the white Camembertstyle flor (yeast allowed to develop in a whitish film on the surface of dry (fino) sherries and similar wines during fermentation).
- Many soft blue-veined cow’s-milk cheeses are produced in France, mostly in the Auvergne, Savoy, and Jura. If the cheese is made from milk of another animal, the label must specify ‘Bleu de Chevre’ (blue goat’s milk cheese) or ‘Bleu de Brebis’ (blue ewes milk cheese). Ewe is a female sheep & Raw is male sheep.
- In France, the name ‘Bleu’ also applies to white cheeses in which only the crust turns blue and is covered with a natural pale blue down, such as Olivet Bleu and Vendöme Bleu.
- The most important of the blue-veined cheeses are produced in Auvergne, Bresse, the Causses, Corsica (from ewe’s milk), upper Jura, LagneuiJJe, Landes, Quercy, Sainte-Foy, Sassenage and Thiézac.
Making blue-veined cheese
The precise methods by which blue cheeses are made vary according to type and regional techniques. The curds are cut into cubes, drained and moulded.
During coagulation or, more frequently, during molding, spores of the fungus Penicillium Glaucum are added. For some cheeses the fungus may be added earlier in the process, for example to the milk at the beginning of production.
This fungus gives the blue veining. The molded curds are then salted and finely perforated to encourage the growth of the spores, and finally, they are matured for varying periods in damp cellars. The best seasons for blue cheese are summer and autumn.
Good blue cheese is ivory- or cream-colored, firm and springy and rather fatty, with evenly distributed light or dark green-blue veins. The naturally formed crust may be rough or smooth. Blue cheeses are sometimes wrapped in foil.
French Blue Cheeses
The first classification system was called AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée)
- BLEU D’AUVERGNE AOP (Cantal, Puy-de-Döme, Haute-Loire): A cylindrical cheese, varying in size, with a firm fatty paste (45% fat content), a strong smell, and a slightly piquant flavor.
- BLEU DE BRESSE (Ain): A small cylindrical cheese with a soft smooth paste (50% fat content), a fine smooth blue crust, and a medium to strong flavor.
- BLEU DES CAUSSES AOC (Rouergue): This cylindrical cheese, formerly made with cow’s milk mixed with ewe’s milk, has a firm fatty paste (45% fat content), a strong smell, and a distinct bouquet.
- BLEU DE CORSE: The name reserved for Corsican white ewes milk cheeses that are not taken to Roquefort for maturing and are not, therefore, as superb as the famous cheese matured in the cellars of Aveyron. Cylindrical in shape, it has a fine paste (45% fat content), a good piquant flavor, and a strong smell.
- BLEU DE HAUT JURA AOC (Ain and Jura: Bleus de Gex and Septmoncel) Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. A flat wheel shape with a slightly convex base, the cheese is springy to the touch with heavy veining (45% fat content), slightly bitter, and having a full flavor.
- BLEU DE LOUDES: Also known as Bleu de Velay. This cylindrical cheese has a firm paste (25—33% fat content) and full flavor; it hardens and becomes brittle.
- BLEU DU QUERCY (Aquitaine): This cylindrical cheese has a firm full paste (45% fat content) and a mild flavour.
- BLEU DE SASSENAGE (Dauphine): Quoted in 1600 by Olivier de Serres and described in Diderot’s Encyclopaedia. This cylindrical cheese has a springy odourless paste (45% fat content), a fine light-coloured crust and a pronounced, slightly bitter flavour.
Serving Blue Cheese
Blue cheeses are served at the end of a meal, preferably alone or as the last course.
So that their often distinct flavor can be savoured with full-bodied aromatic red wines (for strong cheeses) or with more fruity red wines (for more mellow cheeses).
In France, they may also be served with sweet dessert wines, such as Sauternes.
They are often used for canapés (sometimes mixed with butter or chopped nuts, or with celery) and may also be used in the preparation of mixed salads, regional soups, and fondues (a dish in which small pieces of food are dipped into a hot sauce or a hot cooking medium such as oil or broth & it is originated from Swiss).
They are used to enliven such meat dishes as hamburgers and beef olives or as a sauce for game and are often used in soufflés and quiches.