Blue cheese is a beloved and versatile cheese that has been enjoyed for centuries. With its distinct blue veins and tangy flavor, it’s no wonder that blue cheese has become a staple in many kitchens around the world.
But did you know that there are different types of blue cheese? From creamy to crumbly, each type of blue cheese has its own unique characteristics and uses.
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of blue cheese and how to best enjoy them. So sit back, grab a cracker, and let’s dive into the world of blue cheese!
What Are The Different Types Of Blue Cheese?
There are many different types of blue cheese, but they can generally be divided into two categories: creamy and crumbly.
Creamy blue cheese is often younger and has a higher moisture content and percentage of butterfat. This makes it perfect for spreading over bread, crackers, or fresh fruit. Some creamy blue cheeses are made richer by the addition of cream to the curd during the cheesemaking process, resulting in a luxuriously smooth texture that resembles a Brie or even a triple cream.
Crumbly blue cheeses, on the other hand, have less butterfat and have been aged for a longer period of time. The aging process reduces the moisture content in the cheese and creates a denser curd. Harder, crumbly blue cheese is perfect for crumbling atop salads or for use in blue cheese dressing applications.
Introduction To Blue Cheese
Blue cheese is a type of cheese that is characterized by its spotted or veined appearance and distinct smell. It is made by adding cultures of the mold Penicillium to the cheese, which creates blue or blue-grey mold throughout the cheese. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form, while others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheeses are typically aged in temperature-controlled environments such as caves.
There are many different types of blue cheese available, but five varieties are considered “traditional classics.” These cheeses have been granted PDO or PGI by the EU and are tightly regulated. Blue cheese can be eaten by itself or can be spread, crumbled, or melted into or over foods.
Blue cheese can be divided into two main categories: creamy and crumbly. Creamy blue cheese is often younger and has a higher moisture content and percentage of butterfat, making it perfect for spreading over bread, crackers, or fresh fruit. Crumbly blue cheeses, on the other hand, have less butterfat and have been aged for a longer period of time, resulting in a denser curd that is perfect for crumbling atop salads or for use in blue cheese dressing applications.
The history of blue cheese dates back many centuries BC, where it was believed to have been developed in caves where ambient cultures created blue veining. Among the oldest European blues including Roquefort and Gorgonzola, Stilton is a relative youngster but is no less important to blue aficionados. It was first served to travelers from London on the Great North Road at the Bell Inn in Stilton, Huntingdonshire in the early 1720s.
What Makes Blue Cheese Blue?
Blue cheese gets its distinct blue or green veins from the addition of Penicillium mold during the cheesemaking process. The most common blue mold used is called Penicillium Roqueforti, which is named after a village in southern France where the discovery of the mold originated. Another mold used in cheesemaking is Penicillium Glaucum, which produces a greenish vein coloring in cheese.
These Penicillium molds cannot grow without oxygen, so cheesemakers pierce holes into the wheels of cheese during the aging process. The blue or green veins start to grow in the air pockets left behind by the piercing tool. The mold is what gives blue cheese its distinct odor, color, and flavors.
It’s important to note that not all blue cheeses smell and taste the same. Many factors affect the final product, including the type of milk used, what the animals were eating before they were milked, and the slightly different cheesemaking techniques used by each cheesemaker. The aging process also plays a significant role in determining the final flavor and texture of blue cheese.
Creamy Blue Cheeses
Creamy blue cheeses are typically younger and have a higher moisture content than their crumbly counterparts. This makes them perfect for spreading over bread, crackers, or fresh fruit. Some creamy blue cheeses are even made richer by adding cream to the curd during the cheesemaking process, resulting in a luxuriously smooth texture that resembles a Brie or even a triple cream.
One example of a creamy blue cheese is Gorgonzola Dolce, which is a younger version of the more mature Mountain Gorgonzola. Gorgonzola Dolce has a mild and creamy flavor with a slightly sweet finish, making it a great choice for those who are new to blue cheese.
Another example of a creamy blue cheese is Cambozola, which is a German cheese that combines the flavors of Camembert and Gorgonzola. This cheese has a soft, buttery texture with a mild blue flavor that is perfect for spreading on crackers or bread.
Roquefort is another creamy blue cheese that originates from France. It has a crumbly texture and a tangy, salty flavor that pairs well with sweet fruits like pears or figs.
When choosing a creamy blue cheese for your table, keep in mind that they are generally milder than their crumbly counterparts. This is because the extended aging of crumbly blues allows the veining of blue mold to spread deeper through the cheese, concentrating and intensifying the blue cheese flavor. Creamy blues are best paired with light accompaniments like acacia honey, grapes, celery, and crusty baguettes.
Crumbly Blue Cheeses
Crumbly blue cheeses are the type of blue cheese that have less butterfat and have been aged for a longer period of time. This aging process reduces the moisture content in the cheese and creates a denser curd. The extended aging of crumbly blue cheeses allows the veining of blue mold to spread deeper through the cheese, concentrating and intensifying the blue cheese flavor.
Crumbly blue cheeses are perfect for crumbling atop salads or for use in blue cheese dressing applications. They are also well-suited to pairing with dark honey, chutney, walnuts, or melting on top of steaks and burgers. Some of the most popular crumbly blue cheese varieties include French Roquefort, English Stilton, Italian Gorgonzola, and Spanish Cabrales.
Despite the long list of options, these four blue cheese varieties are considered “traditional classics.” Their history goes back centuries, and they’re widely regarded as staple products in their native countries. The production of these cheese varieties is generally tightly regulated, and authentic varieties have been granted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) by the EU.
In choosing a crumbly blue cheese for your table, it’s important to keep in mind that they are bolder and more intense in flavor than creamy blues. This makes them best paired with hearty accompaniments like crusty baguettes, dark honey, chutney, walnuts, or red meats like steaks and burgers.
Semi-Soft Blue Cheeses
Semi-soft blue cheeses are a popular type of blue cheese that falls under the creamy category. One example of a semi-soft blue cheese is Danish Blue, also known as Danablu. Made from full-fat cow’s milk, this cheese is aged for around 10 weeks and has a slightly moist texture with an edible rind. Danish Blue has a creamy texture and a strong salt content, making it perfect for melting over steaks or spreading over crackers.
Another example of a semi-soft blue cheese is Fourme d’Ambert from Auvergne, France. This cheese dates back to Roman times and is made from raw cow milk. It has stark dark-blue veins, a creamy texture, and a mild, mushroomy, slightly earthy flavor. Fourme d’Ambert is perfect for spreading over bread or crackers or for use in salads.
Semi-soft blue cheeses are great for those who prefer milder blue cheese flavors and want a cheese that is easy to spread or crumble. They are also perfect for pairing with light accompaniments like fresh fruit or crusty baguettes.
Pairing Blue Cheese With Food And Wine
Pairing blue cheese with food and wine can be a delightful experience for your taste buds. Blue cheese has a unique taste that can be complemented by a variety of wines, both red and white.
When pairing blue cheese with wine, it is important to consider the intensity of the cheese’s flavor. For example, if you are serving a pungent blue cheese like Roquefort or Cabrales, you will want to pair it with a bold red wine like cabernet sauvignon or malbec. These wines have enough tannins and acidity to balance the strong flavor of the cheese.
If you are serving a milder blue cheese like Bleu d’Auvergne or Barkham Blue, you may want to pair it with a medium-bodied red wine like a southern Italian red such as negroamaro or nero d’avola. These wines have enough structure to complement the cheese without overpowering it.
For those who prefer white wine, a smooth Italian white wine like Gavi di Gavi pairs well with blue cheese in a salad or pasta dish where the cheese is mellowed by the addition of milk or cream. A Jurancon Sec also works well with roquefort, pear, and endive salad.
Fortified wines like port, medium dry amontillado or oloroso sherry, and sweet madeira can also be paired with blue cheese. These wines have a touch of sweetness that complements the bitterness in blue cheese.
When pairing blue cheese with food, there are endless possibilities. Blue cheese can be crumbled over salads or used as a topping for pizza. It can also be used as an ingredient in savory dishes like pasta or gnocchi with a blue cheese sauce. For appetizers, try pairing blue cheese with snails for a unique and flavorful combination.
No matter how you choose to enjoy blue cheese, experimenting with different pairings can lead to some delicious discoveries.