Blue cheese is a general classification of cowâ€™s milk, sheepâ€™s milk, or goatâ€™s milk cheeses that has had Penicillium cultures added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue or blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form and others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave.
In the European Union many blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are, like wine, a protected designation of origin, meaning they can bear the name only if they have been made in a particular region in a certain country. Similarly, individual countries have protections of their own such as Franceâ€™s Appellation dâ€™Origine ContrÃ´lÃ©e and Italyâ€™s Denominazione di Origine Protetta.
The characteristic flavor of blue cheeses tends to be sharp and a bit salty. The smell of this food is widely considered to be pungent, even compared to other cheeses. They can be eaten by themselves or can be crumbled or melted over foods.Blue cheese is believed to have been discovered by accident. The caves that early cheeses were aged in shared the properties of being temperature and moisture controlled environments, as well as being favorable to many varieties of mold. Roquefortis said to have been invented in 1070 AD. Gorgonzolais one of the oldest known blue cheeses, having been created around 879 AD, though it is said that it did not actually contain blue-veins until around the 11th century. Stiltonis a relatively new addition occurring sometime in the 18th century.
Many varieties of blue cheese that originated subsequently were an attempt to fill the demand for Roquefort-style cheeses that were prohibitive either due to cost or politics.