Guide to blue cheeses

Explore the whole world of cheeses it is a feat that would take a lifetime, there are plenty innumerable types e every part of the world has its workhorses. Seasoned, soft, fresh and blue cheeses populate chopping boards and are ingredients of more or less traditional preparations. But what is meant by blue cheeses? To answer this question you need to understand first of all how blue cheeses are obtained.

What are blue cheeses

To define a blue cheese is the presence of mold colonies which in appearance are similar to streaks that change from green to gray to blue. These molds are microorganisms called fungi which generate the green and blue veins and although they are abundant they do not interfere with the lactic acid bacteria necessary for the cheesemaking process. Before the curdling process, these microorganisms are added to the milk in the form of spore which, germinating during the maturation, will form the molds that characterize this type of cheese.

Why are they called blue cheeses

The term blue cheese, in the Italian dialect, derives from the Milanese word “herbalin” which means exactly parsley, precisely because of the green color and jagged shape. In the French language (another country where blue cheeses are widespread), blue cheeses are called parsleywhich means really parsley. Also in French, blue cheeses are also called blue cheeseor blue cheeses precisely because of their veins. In English these cheeses are called blue cheese.

How blue cheeses are obtained

This kind of cheese comes from marbling process that you get piercing the forms with thick and long iron needles during the maturation phase. In this way, oxygen will enter from the holes, favoring the formation of mold and consequently the green and blue veins. The marbling technique has very ancient origins and was born as a result of a case, as happened with many other dairy products and more. Since the year one thousand, the cheeses were stored in often humid caves and caverns. The cheese was then affected by moulds, but it was discovered that its taste was surprising and marbling was practiced as a production technique ever since. Today marbling is scrupulously regulated through very rigorous protocols which also include a careful selection of mycelia and mushrooms which give the cheese its characteristic flavours.

What do blue cheeses taste like?

Each blue cheese has its own characteristic taste, but in general, this kind of dairy product is appreciated for its pungent and slightly spicy flavour. The territories and the place of maturation, added to the choice of mycelia, determine the organoleptic characteristics of each blue cheese.

List of Italian blue cheeses

  • Basaj: it is a sheep’s blue cheese that is refined in Pantelleria passito monster which gives it a pleasant sweetish scent with atoms of honey and fruit. Its texture is creamy and its flavor extremely delicate.
  • Aosta Blue: it is made with milk from red and black Aosta Valley cows. It is one of the youngest blue cheeses since it was first produced in 2005. Its flavor is sweet but extremely characteristic.
  • Blu ’61: also macerated in raisin wine and cranberries, this blueberry has the scent of dried fruit such as dates and raisins. It is characterized by a delicate and sweet flavor with an extreme balance.
  • Bluedessert Aceto: cow’s milk and cream, together with the refinement in balsamic vinegar, make the taste of this blue cheese sweet.
  • Castelmagno: it is the most famous of the Piedmontese blue cheeses. This cheese is made from cow’s milk and a part of sheep’s milk and is characterized by a strong taste and aroma.
  • Gorgonzola: it is the most famous blue cheese in Italy and one of the most appreciated in the world. It is a soft or semi-hard cheese and can be sweet or spicy.

French blue cheeses

  • Blue Auvergne: produced in central France, this blue cheese has a much more delicate and less pungent flavor than the other French ones. Its paste is white and creamy.
  • Fourme d’Ambert: it has a peculiar dry flowery rind and has very ancient origins. It is matured for about a month and has a strong flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
  • Roquefort: in terms of notoriety, Roquefort is the French equivalent of our Gorgonzola. It has been produced in the south of France since 1070 and is prepared with sheep’s milk. Its maturation can take up to 9 months, its smell is as intense as its flavour.

Other blue cheeses

  • Blue Stilton: also called just Stilton, this blue cheese has English origins. You will recognize it from the burnished crust and its intense flavour.
  • danablu: it is one of the rare Danish blue cheeses. It is hard-textured and has a rather gentle flavour.
  • Gamalost: you will only find it in Norway, its country of origin, because it is not produced in sufficient quantities to be able to export it. After four weeks of maturation, this blue cheese is obtained with very light veins and a particularly gentle flavour.
  • Cabrales cheese: it is typical of Asturias (Spain) and is a very particular cheese made with cow, sheep and goat milk obtained from two different milkings (one in the morning and one in the evening), this practice makes its texture decidedly creamy. It has an almost non-existent crust.
  • Shropshire: was born from a Scottish attempt to imitate Stilton. Annatto, a particular food coloring that makes it unmistakably yellow, is added to this hard enough blue cheese.

Blue cheeses paired with wine

To create winning pairings between blue cheeses and wine you won’t have to play with contrasts, but indulge in the intense flavors and decisive aromas of these dairy products. Accompany the blue cheeses with the raisins, sweet dessert wines which with their important structure enhance the cheese. The sweetness and softness of the passito are also excellent characteristics that serve to dilute any spiciness of the blue cheeses.

Also excellent are the combinations of blue cheeses and full-bodied red wines, such as the sparkling Bonarda which balances the spicy and also the sweet scent. Pay attention to the tannic component which, if combined with particularly sparkling blue cheeses, could bring the palate closer to unpleasantly bitter scents.

Per combine blue cheeses with white wines, choose wines with an important structure, a marked aroma and strong notes of freshness. Gewürztraminer, for example, is perfect for balancing the intense flavors of certain blue cheeses.

Other pairings with blue cheeses

If you have decided to prepare a good platter of blue cheeses, pair it with honey and jams, or jams, with an intense taste. It’s perfect the chestnut honeythe bitter orange marmalade and, among the jams, choose that of pineapplethe one of figs or that of pere.

How to preserve blue cheeses

Between tips for storing blue cheeses there is certainly that of keeping them separate from other cheeses to avoid the spread of moulds. Wrap the blue cheeses in the paper that the shopkeeper will give you and keep them closed in an airtight container to prevent their intense smell from contaminating that of other foods in the refrigerator.

Are blue cheeses bad for you?

The problem of blue cheeses, contrary to what one might commonly think, it’s not the molds (which, we recall, are “good” moulds), but their high content of saturated lipids or fats. Especially those suffering from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease should avoid them or reduce their consumption to small amounts only once a month.


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