Cheese

Blue Cheese

Blue cheese, with its pungent salty, piquant flavours is a unique category of mould ripened cheese. The natural crusty rind on most blues has an earthy rustic appearance that develops while the cheese is maturing in humidity-controlled cellars. Australia makes a variety of styles of blue cheese. The first blue cheese recorded were from factories in northern New South Wales and Gippsland in the 1930s and 1940s. Currently more than 22 varieties of blue cheese are made in Australia.


Making Blue Cheese


Blue mould spores, Penicillium Roqueforti, are added to the milk at the outset of the cheesemaking process. Once the curd is cut and the whey drained, blue cheese varieties are not (mechanically) pressed. Rather, they are frequently turned so the weight of the curds expels the moisture. The curd must remain loosely packed in the hoops to leave space for the blue mould to grow. Hoop size depends on the style of cheese being made and influences the cheese’s development:


  • Australian gorgonzola-styles, 6kg to 8kg.
  • Australian Danish-styles, 2kg.
  • Australian blue brie styles, approximately 1.2kg.

The next day, the cheese is salted and turned.

Stainless steel needles, not copper wire, are used to pierce and aerate the cheese. This process may be done from one to three times and assists the growth of blue cultures during maturation.

Blue mould grows along the spike lines and into the smaller crevices (veins) of the curd. The number of times the cheese is pierced and whether it is from the top as well as the sides of the cheese will largely depend on the type of cheese being made.

These veins appear initially as light blue at the centre of the immature cheese. As the cheese softens and matures, the veins become darker and spread outwards developing the distinctive blue flavour of the cheese.

What makes each blue style unique?

  • The type and quantity of blue culture added to the milk.
  • The way each cheese is spiked (stitched). This will affect the way the cheese matures, whether it is heavily or lightly blued, and whether it appears as a marbled effect or vertical lines.
  • The size of the cheese. This determines how long it will take to mature and, in turn, indicates the flavour development of the cheese.
  • The way the cheese is matured will give the cheese unique characteristics. Ranging from mild to strong. Blue cheese varieties are rich and buttery with a pungent aroma and a smooth, soft texture.
  • A waxed cheese will develop different flavour characteristics to a natural rinded cheese. 
Australian varieties of blue cheese have been modelled on the following styles.

Danish-style blue

History
Danish-style blue was invented in the early 20th century by a Danish cheesemaker. Today, it has become one of the most widely imitated blue cheeses in the world.

Characteristics

Danish-style blue is produced usually in 2kg wheels. Cutting through its natural grey-blue rind reveals a soft white cheese with a dark blue mould. Sometimes a hint of grittiness can develop in the cheese from its blue mould growth.

Flavour
Danish-style blue has a sharp taste with a salty bite.

Selection and storage

  • Choose if evenly veined with slight marbling and if the interior is slightly moist but not dull or grey.
  • Store in its original wrapper or with foil against the cut face.
  • Freezing is not recommended.


Serving

  • Excellent added to a salad.
  • Incorporate into a blue cheese sauce.
  • Use in a warm winter soup.
  • Add to quiches and pasta dishes.
  • Melt onto steak.
  • Serve on a cheese platter with fruit breads or any other slightly sweet accompaniments such as pears and figs.

For more recipes with blue cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

Blue Brie

History
A product of 20th century technology, Blue brie is a commercially-made cheese which, unlike most other blue styles, was not discovered by chance.

Characteristics

Blue brie is one of the more difficult cheeses to make as it incorporates two differently behaving moulds.

One, a blue mould, naturally grows from the interior to the surface of the cheese while the other, a white mould, used to soften the intensity of the blue cheese flavour, naturally grows on the surface.

Usually made in wheels of about 1.2kgs, blue brie has a width of approximately 13cm and a depth of 8cm. The cheese is soft and creamy like brie, with a creamy texture and subtle blue flavour. Triple cream blue is a triple cream cheese with blue mould added.

Flavour

Rich and creamy, blue brie has subtle hints of blue characteristics. An ideal cheese to introduce the flavour of blue to others as it is not overpowering.

Selection and Storage

  • Choose if the rind, like that of brie or camembert, shows signs of breakdown.
  • Ensure it shows subtle blue veining and a shiny appearance when cut.
  • Store wrapped in the original wrapper or in foil.
  • Freezing is not recommended.

Serving

  • Excellent served as a table cheese.
  • Use as stuffing in chicken.
  • Include as a sandwich ingredient.
  • Toss in a salad.

For more recipes with blue brie cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

Gorgonzola-style Blue

History
Gorgonzola is the oldest named blue cheese in the world. It was created, by chance, when shepherds left fresh cheese (stracchino) in caves near gorgonzola, and returned to find mould growing on the cheese. There are two different styles of Gorgonzola, “piccante” which is quite strong and salty or “dolce” which is sweet, mild and creamy.

Characteristics

Gorgonzola-style blue is made in large wheels weighing between 6kg and 8kg. It has a natural, crusty rind that is usually blue-grey in colour and mottled with orange. When cut, its soft texture shows distinctive mould development and marbling.

Flavour

A fully-developed Gorgonzola will have earthy, spicy overtones with a distinct fruitiness.

Selection and Storage

  • Choose if the natural rind is dry to slightly sticky.
  • When cut, ensure the blue veining is evenly distributed with subtle marbling around the veins.
  • Store in foil or its original wrapper.
  • Freezing is not recommended.

Serving

  • Add to a sauce or salad.
  • Serve as a table cheese with slightly sweet accompaniments such as pear, nashi pear or figs.
  • Blend into a pasta.

For more recipes with gorgonzola-style blue cheese, visit The Dairy Kitchen.

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