Pliny the Elder first referenced Roquefort in historical literature in 79 AD, praising this unique French blue cheese. Charles VI granted the hamlet of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon exclusive production rights to the cheese in the 15th Century. Roquefort cheese received the first Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese in 1925, ensuring quality by regulating manufacturing and origin.
Roquefort, one of the world’s famous blue cheeses, is a raw sheep’s milk cheese created in the south of France and distinguished by its characteristic green-blue veins. According to legend, Roquefort, once known as the ‘King of Cheese’, was discovered when a shepherd eating bread and sheep’s milk cheese was distracted by a lovely woman and left his lunch in the Combalou caverns of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. When he returned, he realised the cheese had become mouldy. He tried it bravely, and it was excellent. As a result, the Roquefort cheese was discovered.
Pliny the Elder first referenced Roquefort in historical literature in 79 AD, praising this unique French blue cheese. Charles VI granted the hamlet of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon exclusive production rights to the cheese in the 15th Century. Roquefort cheese received the first Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese in 1925, ensuring quality by regulating manufacturing and origin. Roquefort cheese is now a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) throughout the European Union, which safeguards the product name through laws governing origins and production processes. The Lacaune breed of sheep must be used to make authentic Roquefort cheese. The Roquefort Association Inc. verifies this by affixing a foil seal featuring their red sheep insignia to each genuine French Roquefort Cheese product.
Whole unpasteurised sheep’s milk is heated to roughly 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit before being mixed with rennet and salt to make Roquefort cheese. The resulting curds are then injected with penicillium spores and let rest for an hour or two. The curd is then gently chopped into little pieces, the whey, or liquid that separates from the coagulated milk proteins, is drained, and the curds are placed in round moulds. The moulds are turned numerous times to allow the whey to drain completely.
After several days in a dry salt bath, the cheeses are pierced with metal skewers, allowing oxygen to interact with the fungal spores, resulting in blue marbling. Finally, the cheese is matured for 3 to 9 months, however most Roqueforts mature within 5 months. In terms of the fungus itself, some cheesemakers employ a lab-created liquid culture, others dust mouldy bread powder into the curd, while still others utilise a combination of approaches.
All of the blue mould cheeses on the market have powerful flavours and juicy textures. Roquefort can be replaced with any number of cheeses because of their similarities. Gorgonzola has a similar palate and consistency to Roquefort, ranging from mild to robust in flavour. This Italian staple has complex flavours and high uniformity, making it suitable for salads, steaks, and cheese boards. Stilton, which is vibrant, powerful, and full of personality, serves as a wonderful stand-in while also bringing its own features. Traditional Stilton is powerful, with earthy undertones of mushroom that discreetly lace its strong and flavorful profile.
Roquefort cheese can be served as a table cheese, as a centrepiece of a cheese platter, and combined with breads, crackers, fresh or dried fruits, nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, as well as crumbled over salads. Roquefort cheese is a versatile ingredient that goes well on pizza, in quesadillas, on sandwiches, in casseroles, as a topping for steaks and burgers, in baked tarts, in roasted vegetables, as a stuffing for anything from peppers to olives, and as the foundation for cheese sauces for pasta and gnocchi.