Roquefort Cheese - Cheese Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

One of the great blue cheeses of the world, Roquefort Cheese is a raw sheep's milk cheese made in the south of France, and characterized by its distinct green-blue veins. Legend has it that Roquefort, once called the "King of Cheese", was discovered when a shepherd, who was having a meal of bread and sheep's milk cheese was distracted by a beautiful maiden and left his meal in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. Upon his return he discovered the cheese covered in mold. Bravely, he tasted it and it was delicious! Thus, the discovery of Roquefort Cheese.

Roquefort was first mentioned in historical writings by Pliny the Elder in 79 AD who praised this original French blue cheese. In the 15th century, Charles VI gave the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon exclusive production rights of the cheese. In 1925, Roquefort Cheese became the first Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese, which ensures quality by regulating production and origin of the cheese. Today Roquefort Cheese is also a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese throughout the European Union which similarly protects the product name through regulations regarding origins and production methods. Authentic Roquefort Cheese must be made from the Lacaune breed of sheep. The Roquefort Association Inc. ensures this by marking each genuine French Roquefort Cheese package with a foil seal depicting their red sheep symbol.

Roquefort Cheese is made by adding Penicillium Roqueforti spores to the curd during the cheese making process. This particular strain of healthy, edible mold was discovered long ago in the Combalou Caves, the same caves where Roquefort Cheese is set to age today. Natural ventilating faults within the Combalou rock of the caves provide the ideal temperature and humidity for the ripening of Roquefort Cheese. On a daily basis, around 40,000 round "pains", or loaves, mature in these caves for approximately 3 to 4 months, until they are ready for packaging and consumption. Leftover ewe's milk from Roquefort production is used to make Valbreso French Feta - a tasty white brined cheese.

Roquefort Cheese is white, soft, crumbly, and rindless. Its distinctive blue-green veins provide a sharp tanginess to create a well-balanced complex, creaminess and a range of sweet, smoky and salty flavors. The cheese is best when eaten at room temperature and delicious when served with figs and nuts, or a piece of crusty French bread and a glass of sweet wine. Crumble Roquefort Cheese over pizza, salads, or pasta, or blend into dressings or dips.

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