How blue cheese is made:
Traditionally (and most likely by accident), blue cheese was created when newly made cheese was stored in humid caves that had naturally occurring mould clinging to the walls. This mould attached itself to the cheese and worked its way into its fine cracks. Though this method is still used, the mould is usually mixed in with the curds during production or placed inside long skewers that are poked into pressed cheese. Aging and ripening further enhances mould development and helps create blue cheeses with unique flavours.
Blue cheeses are made with cow, sheep and occasionally goat milk. Textures vary from soft-ripened to semifirm. Flavours are determined by the milk and season in which it was produced, the age of the cheese, the ripening process, the geography and the craftsmanship. A healthy blue cheese should not be bitter, overly pungent or sticky.
Buying and storing blue cheese:
For optimum quality, buy blue cheese from a trusted cheesemonger who offers samples before you purchase anything. When possible, have a piece cut from the big wheel of cheese instead of buying it precut because the cheese will be fresher and more alive. At home, remove any plastic wrap because it suffocates the cheese, then rewrap it in parchment paper then foil to slow the aging process and contain aromas. Store the cheese in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. For peak flavour and texture, remove the cheese from the refrigerator and loosen wrappings at least 30 minutes before serving.
Three kings of blue cheese:
Roquefort from France, Gorgonzola from Italy and Stilton from England are the world-renowned blue-veined cheeses collectively referred to as the Kings of Cheese.
Canadian blue cheeses:
Fabulous Canadian blue cheeses can be enjoyed locally. In British Columbia, look for Beddis Blue, Blue Capri, Naramata Bench Blue and Tiger Blue; in Ontario, Highland Blue; in Quebec, Bleu d'Auvergne, Bleu de la Moutonniere, Ciel de Charlevoix, Fourme d'Ambert and Rassembleu; and in Nova Scotia, Dragon's Breath.
Try these blue cheese recipes: