No record exists of the first Blue Cheese. Some historians suggest that mold from the Penicillium family was accidentally transferred from bread to a nearby piece of cheese. Because the development of blue mold occurred randomly, Blue cheeses were highly prized. Today, cheesemakers add appropriate mold cultures to develop blue veins in the cheese, which has a piquant, full, earthy flavor that varies among styles, and a firm, crumbly texture. Wisconsin cheesemakers produce a number of award-winning Blue cheeses.
Creamy ivory with blue/gray veins
Firm and crumbly; some styles are slightly creamy
Piquant, with a full, earthy flavor as a result of the blue mold (fungi) in the cheese
Some styles are milder, not as earthy, yet still piquant; some are salty
Toss hot green beans with crumbled Blue cheese and top with chopped walnuts or cashews.
Use in dips, sauces, spreads and dressings for both vegetables and fruits.
Spread fresh fig halves with a mixture of equal parts Blue cheese crumbles and Mascarpone. Wrap with thinly sliced prosciutto and broil until heated through.
Add gourmet excitement to burgers by wrapping the beef around crumbled Blue cheese.
Goes Well With
Pears, apples, walnuts, cashews, almonds
Red wines such as Pinot Noir or Burgundy; dessert wines such as Port and Late Harvest Riesling
Bulk: 6-pound wheel, half wheel or split, 10-pound precrumbled, 5-pound precrumbled
Retail: Random and exact weight, 8-ounce precrumbled, 4-ounce precrumbled
To prepare a quantity of crumbles, put 1/2-inch slices into the freezer until firm (1/2 hour). This makes it easier to crumble and yields consistent size pieces
The curds are loosely packed in forms, often by hand, leaving pockets for mold development. Cheesemakers pierce Blue cheeses with needles to allow oxygen to penetrate, which promotes the growth of the characteristic blue mold.
Most cheeses in the Blue family produce a grainy melt and require long, slow cooking to incorporate into sauces.
Blue cheeses soften quickly at room temperature because of their high moisture content. Keep these cheeses cold for easier cutting and wrapping.
40-pound fishing line makes an excellent alternative to wire for cutting Blue cheese. It has no "memory," which means it doesn't kink or break easily.
Blue cheeses have a tendency to weep. Make sure you wipe down wheels with a disposable towel before cutting.
Blue-veined cheeses that appear to have few if any veins will develop veining when left unwrapped for a short time. Exposure to oxygen encourages growth of the blue penicillium mold.