Blue cheese is one of those ingredients that can be incredibly divisive. Its bold flavor (and aroma) is either cherished or abhorred. There are many types and they vary from the more intense to the more mild.
Let’s break down what blue cheese is. At the core, it is not a dressing or a single type of cheese. Truth be told, it is a classification of cheese that have cultures of mold (the good kind that makes things delicious) added to it.
That mold is what gives blue cheese its look. The blue, green, grey, or black part is referred to as the “vein”. This subset of cheese stands out not only because of its distinctive look but also because of its salty and sharp flavor as well as the pungent aroma they pack.
The general consensus on how blue cheese came to be was by accident. In the Middle Ages, cheese was aged and stored in caves that gave the person making them the ability to control the temperature and moisture reaching the cheese.
The story is as follows: the cheesemaker leaves a loaf of bread behind in the cheese cave. Said bread gets moldy. Mold from bread meets the cheese and the mold makes the cheese more delicious.
Whether or not that story is true remains to be seen, but I like it and am thankful we have blue cheese today.
Blue cheese can be made from pasteurized cow, sheep, or goat’s milk. It is “ripened,” as I mentioned earlier with a mold called penicillium. Texture can vary from crumbly to soft and creamy.
And just like with other cheese, the flavor and smell vary as well. Some are downright stinky (in a good way) while others are less offensive and great for those that are less than excited to give it a go.
Some popular cheeses that fall into the blue category include:
This type of cheese is delicious as part of a salad dressing or wing dip of course, but it is also incredible as part of a fruit and cheese board, on top of your favorite burger, or paired with a bit of sweetness in something like my Bacon Wrapped Dates.
The mold used specifically in making blue cheese does not produce any dangerous toxins. In fact, it is the reason this cheese is so delicious in the first place.
Why is blue cheese so smelly?
Let’s call it aromatic instead of smelly. That would be the mold we were just talking about. While the mold gives this cheese its unusual and striking look and breaks down the cheese to give it a unique creaminess, it also breaks down the fats in the cheese. The fat breaking down is what gives it that funky quality in terms of aroma.
Is blue cheese healthy?
It just so happens that it is relatively nutritious and touts more calcium than most cheese. That said, it is also high in sodium and fat in most cases and should be enjoyed in moderation.