Legend has it that Blue cheese was invented by accident when a drunken cheese maker left behind a half-eaten loaf of bread in a moist cheese cave. When he returned, he discovered the mould covering the bread had transformed it into a blue cheese.
Roquefort is reputed to be the oldest of the blue cheeses and Gorgonzola has been around in its current form since the 11th century so the true origin of Blue is lost in the mists of time.
Blue cheeses can be made from cow, sheep or goats milk and ripened with cultures of the mould Penicillin. The cheeses have a particular smell that comes from the cultivated bacteria – and green, grey, blue or black veins or spots of mould throughout the body. These are created by spiking the cheese with stainless steel rods to let oxygen circulate and encourage the growth of the mould.
The flavour and texture of the cheese depends on the type of milk used, the size, region, climate and length of aging, but it is generally sharp and salty.
They are the grand, ‘grown-up’ cheeses you need to develop a palate for. Roquefort from France, Gorgonzola from Italy and Stilton from England. At their best when served with crackers, pears, raisins, fruit breads and walnuts. And surprisingly good melted into sour cream, plain yoghurt or mayonnaise to create a classic dressing.
Like all cheeses, Blue is a living food. We recommend buying small amounts at a time, carefully wrapping in waxy, parchment paper and sealing in a plastic container in the fridge. But remember to always bring it to room temperature before it is served.