How Does Blue Cheese Become Blue?

As strong cheeses go, there’s nothing more potent than a well-aged blue cheese. One aspect of its enduring success as a showstopper is its variety, as it can be crafted from cow's milk, sheep's milk, or goat's milk. No matter your taste preferences, there’s bound to be a blue that suits you.

Their standout appearance is another factor, as their distinguishing blue, blue-grey or blue-green veins of mould run through it like a tiny river network inside the cheese. But why does it turn a shade of blue? And how do cheesemakers accomplish the look? Well, the answer is all down to the complex process of making blue cheese, which this article will explain. Unwrap your favourite blue from the fridge, because this blog may leave you peckish for it!

Initiating the Blue Cheese Process

The first step in making blue cheese is to gather the necessary ingredients and equipment. This includes milk, starter cultures, rennet (an enzyme used to coagulate the milk) and Penicillium mould (the mould that creates the blue veins).

Then, the milk is heated to a specific temperature and the starter cultures are added. These cultures of bacteria help to ferment the milk and give the cheese its characteristic flavour. After the milk has fermented for a certain amount of time, rennet is added to coagulate the milk and form curds. The curds are then cut into small pieces, drained and placed in a mould and pressed to remove excess whey and form the cheese. The cheese is then removed from the mould and placed in a brine solution to help preserve it.

How to Age Blue Cheese

At this point, the cheese is ready to be aged. To make blue cheese, the cheese is pierced with needles or stabbed with a thin wire to allow air to enter and encourage the growth of the Penicillium mould. In this state, the cheese is then left to age for several weeks or months in a cool, humid environment.

As the cheese ages, the Penicillium mould grows and forms the characteristic blue veins. This isn’t without a little help - the affineur turns and rotates the cheese regularly to ensure that the mould grows evenly.

Once the cheese has aged to the desired level, it is ready to be packaged and sold. The making of blue cheese is a time-honoured tradition that involves careful attention to detail and a commitment to quality but results in a delicious and unique cheese that is enjoyed around the world. Quality blue cheese is often packaged in foil or wax paper to maintain its flavour.

At Rennet & Rind, we’ve curated a finely crafted collection of artisan cheese that all comes from local farms that make it the authentic way. We’re an award-winning cheesemonger and affineur, and our online store is a treasure trove of the UK’s best blue cheeses, including award-winners at the World Cheese Awards such as The Duke, Cropwell Bishop Stilton and Beauvale. Try the pleasures of Rennet & Rind’s acclaimed artisan blue cheeses today.

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