Why is Blue Cheese Blue? The discovery was quite by accident in the small communal village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Southern France, when it is told that a boy left his lunch of bread and cheese in a cave because he was distracted by a beautiful girl. The cheese was forgotten in the cave for a month or so which allowed the mold inside the cave to spread to the cheese, which when mixed with the cheese, produced blue streaks. The boy came back to find the cheese was changed by the chemical reaction. He thought it had gone bad but apparently wanted to show someone else.
A brave soul decided to taste it and must have been pleasantly surprised by the sharp, salty flavor. They did not die or get sick so it was assumed that the blue moldy cheese was edible. A market grew out of this accidental discovery and they repeated the process of storing cheese in the cave to attract the mold. After a while, bread was placed in the cave to collect the mold. When the bread was covered, it was removed, dried and crumbled into a powder which was mixed with the cheese. It is not just any mold that may accumulate on bread that will make blue cheese. The place where this was first developed had the right kind of mold in the cave to formulate the process.
Current techniques use cow’s milk, goat’s milk or sheep’s milk to make cheese, into which mold spores from Penicillium cultures are added and kept in a temperature controlled environment. The blue-gray or blue-green mold creates the spotted appearance in the cheese and the distinct, sharp smell. This characteristic of Blue Cheese has attracted avid fans around the world. Since blue cheese has a sharp salty flavor, a sweet wine is often suggested to complement the cheese. It will crumble into smaller pieces easily or may be melted and poured over foods.
The mold is currently made in the laboratory and simply injected directly into the cheese to produce a more consistent blue cheese. Powdered mold can be purchased by anyone to make blue cheese. The process still begins with cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk and the original flavor of the cheese is determined by what the animals may have recently eaten. The mold is added to these variations of cheese to each produce a unique flavor. These changing factors make various brands of blue cheese coming from around the world.
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