Blue cheese is a general classification of cow's milk and/or goat's milk cheeses with a blue or blue-green mold. The blue mold in these cheeses is due to mold spores from Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum, etc.
Today most blue cheeses (bleu cheese) are either injected with the mold, as with Roquefort, or the mold is mixed right in with the curds, as it is with Gorgonzola, to insure even distribution of the mold. Most of these cheeses must still be aged in the original caves where they were developed to bear the name. Early blue cheese makers used bread to start the mold and waited for it to spread naturally to the cheese curds.
Most Blue cheeses are made from whole cow's milk, but there are also made with ewe's or goat's milk. These complex blue veined cheeses are generally ranked as some of the best cheeses in the world. They are strong flavored, and have a unique 'tang' that distinguishes these cheeses. Some of the best are Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola and Danablu.
Lanark Blue is a Scottish blue cheese made from ewe's milk. It has blue green veins, a strong salty flavor, with a creamy white inside.
See also: Blue Cheese Trivia
Lovers of blue cheese have included Pliny the Elder, Charlemagne and Casanova.
Most of these cheeses were originally produced in caves in their respective areas, where the mold was naturally present. This combined with the unique nutrients that the mold grew on in the caves affected the flavor, texture and blue-green color of the mold in each of these cheeses. In the beginning, this was most likely discovered by accident when cheeses were stored in the caves, and they developed mold. Then someone decided to taste the cheese that others might have thought to be ruined, and realized how exquisite the taste had become.
Some blue cheeses, such as Danablue, were developed later as less expensive alternatives to the higher priced Roquefort cheese from France.
The process for making America's ‘Maytag Blue Cheese’ was developed by the Iowa State U. in 1941 (it is a process for making blue cheese with homogenized milk.) Production was begun by Fred Maytag II (of dishwasher fame) when he heard about the new process. Maytag blue is also aged in specially designed caves.
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