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Friday, October 05, 2012 2:49 PM
Sixty years ago our choice of cheese was mild or tasty cheddar…blue cheese was mouldy foreign stuff! Now international judges are lauding the praises of blue cheeses made here.
The first NZ blue cheese – a Stilton style - was produced near Invercargill around 1895-1900, by a cheese maker from England, and production continued until 1936.
In 1951, Danish cheese makers at The Rennet Company in Eltham, Taranaki, produced the robust Galaxy Blue Vein.
Traditionally, blue cheeses took their appearance, consistency, flavour and the blue/green veins of mould from their natural environment but, to achieve control and consistency of quality, nowadays virtually all blue cheeses have the penicillium culture added when the pasteurised milk is being curdled.
Types and styles of blue cheese
Blue cheese ranges from those with just a hint of veining to the burst of blue flavour in the more traditional styles. If you haven’t tried it, start with one of the creamy mild Brie types and work up to the intensity of flavour that suits your palate.
Well-matured blue cheese at the stronger flavour level should be sharp and piquant but not over-salty or bitter. It can be soft and creamy or crumbly with a more open texture and the flavour intensifies with age.
The world’s three great blue cheeses are Roquefort (France), made from ewe’s milk, Gorgonzola (Italy) and Stilton (England), both made from cow’s milk. The first two owe their particular characters to the caves in which they were matured, which provided a stable, consistent, cool environment.
Roquefort is creamy, with a tangy, salty flavour, quite sharp. Gorgonzola is the most piquant of the blue cheeses and its rich smell puts some people off. Beneath the rough textured crust is a creamy, white centre streaked with green blue veins. It should melt on the tongue. Stilton is distinctive in taste and crumbly in consistency.
Windsor Blue from Oamaru’s Whitestone Cheese has graced tables at the Playboy mansion and the cast parties of American television show Scrubs, while Kapiti Kikorangi is the cheese of choice at Antarctica's Scott Base.
? To keep blue cheese fresh and prevent its smell/flavour influencing other foods, or vice versa, wrap well in its original packaging or pierced silver foil, preferably in a sealed container on its own, in the refrigerator (around 2-4°C).
? If you use cling wrap, make sure it covers the cut edge well, but is loose over the remainder, and change the cling wrap each time you cut the cheese.
? Don’t leave blue cheese in a warm atmosphere in an attempt to ripen it faster, especially on hot summer days.
Serving Blue Cheese
Take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least an hour before eating and bring to near room temperature. Complement blue cheese with plain water crackers, ripe figs, dates or dried apricots.
AGlogo Beautiful cookware for today’s cooks, available at The Warehouse, nationwide.
Recipe - Cheese Panna Cotta
A rich, special occasion treat to serve in place of a cheese board.
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