How to Pick the Best Blue Cheese

by Cheese411

Want to try blue cheese in your favorite recipe? This guide will explain the different types of blue cheeses and offer pairing recommendations for each type.

Blue cheese, or bleu cheese, is delicious on its own or in cheese recipes like dips, sauces and dressings. Still, not everyone enjoys the sharp and tangy flavor of this cheese and it's definitely an acquired taste. Whether you want blue cheese for a tasty cheese platter with wine or something to put on your burgers fresh off the grill, here's a guide to picking the best blue cheese. You'll find a huge variety here from mild to very strong with a surprising variety of flavors to suit every palette.

Image credit: Popartichoke at Flickr

General Guidelines for Buying Blue Cheese

Courtesy of gabriellaopaz at FlickrSoft and creamy blue cheeses like Gorgonzola tend to have a milder flavor than firmer varieties so you may want to start there if you're new to blue cheese. The crumbly and creamy types like Roquefort have the strongest flavor of all and make excellent homemade dressings and dips.

Image credit: GabriellaOpaz at Flickr

As you shop for blue cheese, make sure you don't buy any that has white mold on its rind. Blue cheese should not have a chemical or ammonia smell, although it may smell like herbal, meat or nutty aroma. Blue cheese is very pungent but it shouldn't smell bad.

Stilton Blue Cheese

Stilton cheese comes from England and is made from pasteurized milk then aged for 9 weeks and pressed into molds. There are only 7 dairies in England authorized to produce true Stilton cheese. You'll notice that Stilton blue cheese is also found in a cylinder shape with a crust and blue veins that radiate from the center. This blue cheese variety is very crumbly and acidic, which makes it a really nice addition to your favorite salad or meal. It can also be paired very well with dessert, port and shiraz wine.

Gorgonzola Blue Cheese

Gorgonzola blue cheese gets its name from the Italian village where it was first made. There are two types of Gorgonzola: Gorgonzola Dolce and Gorgonzola Picante. Picante blue cheese is crumbly and sharp and aged for a full year. Dolce cheese, on the other hand, is aged for up to 5 months and has a creamy texture and sweet flavor. Gorgonzola is a perfect complement to port wine and other red, sweet wines but also works very well in most cheese recipes, whether you're making a dressing or a sauce for chicken or burgers. Try your favorite Gorgonzola in a salad with pecans for a real taste of heaven!

Image credit: Jabb at Flickr

Roquefort Blue Cheese

Roquefort cheese is a very creamy and strong blue cheese that's produced only in France. It goes through a very unique aging process in caves in a particular region of France. With its very rich flavor, it's an acquired taste but it does pair well with wine, nuts and figs.

Maytag Blue Cheese

This is one of the only blue cheese varieties made in the United States. It comes from Maytag Dairy Farms in Iowa and is always made from fresh, local farm milk. Maytag blue cheese is very tangy and a bit spicy with a crumbly texture that melts quickly. Like Roquefort cheese, it's an acquired taste but it does pair well with wine.

Danablu Blue Cheese

This Danish cheese is also very sharp with a delicious creamy consistency that pairs well with dark bread, red wine and fruit. It's only made by a few companies in Denmark and has a unique green-blue marbling that shows up after 5 weeks of aging. If you can find this blue cheese in your location, it's really fun to try in many cheese recipes and has a very unique flavor. You may find it sold as Danish Blue, rather than Danablu. 

Image credit: Dioxido at Flickr

Don't be afraid to try new types of blue cheese! There are cheese brands like Castello that make delicious blue cheeses that will make you a blue cheese lover! If you've always used Gorgonzola, give one of the stronger varieties a try. You might be surprised how much you like a rich, tangy cheese like Maytag blue cheese once you give it a try. This will also open you up to experimenting with your favorite blue cheese recipes at home!

Updated: 10/06/2012, Cheese411
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Mira on 11/05/2012

Gorgonzola with pecans, Rocquefort with figs -- these are GREAT ideas!!

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