Gorgonzola Cheese is a cylindrical blue cheese made from full-fat, pasteurized cow's milk.
The cheese is made in various sizes. The minimum height is 13 cm; the diameter will be between 20 and 32 cm.
It has an inedible, rough pinkish-grey rind. Inside, the cheese is whitish or pale yellow with greenish-blue flecks and veins.
After pasteurization, the milk is let cool to 82 to 96 F (28 to 36 C.) A blue cheese mould, "Penicillium glaucum" is stirred in (most other blue cheeses use "Penicillium roqueforti"), along with calf's rennet to curdle the cheese. The curd is cut and drained, and packed into perforated cylindrical moulds. The cheese is turned out of the mould, and stamped at either end with a mark identifying the dairy.
The cheese is then salted, and let stand for several days at 64 to 75 F (18 to 24 C.)
The cheeses are then moved into controlled storage areas for aging at a temperature between 35 to 44 F (2 to 7 C.) (This aging used to be done in caves.)
Aging periods vary based on size of the cheese:
- Small wheel, 13 to 17 1/2 pounds (6 to 8 kg), aged a minimum of 60 days. Tangy.
- Medium wheel, 20 to 26 1/2 pounds (9 to 12 kg), aged a minimum of 80 days. Tangy.
- Large wheel, 22 to 28 1/2 pounds (10 to 13kg), aged a minimum of 50 days. Mild.
During aging, holes are poked several times in the cheese to allow air to enter so the blue mould can develop.
When the cheese is aged, and has passed inspection, it is wrapped in aluminum foil for shipping, and sold on.
Gorgonzola is PDO protected in the EU. It can only be made in the Piedmont provinces of Alessandria (specific towns), Novara (including Verbano-Cusio-Ossola), Vercelli and Biella, Cuneo and Casale Monferrato, and in Lombardy (in the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Milan (including Lecco, Lodi and Monza), Pavia and Varsese.)
The tangier versions are called Gorgonzola Picante (aka Gorgonzola naturale, Gorgonzola stagionata or "Mountain Gorgonzola."
The mild version is called Gorgonzola Dolce. It is also creamier.
Gorgonzola Cheese wasn't always called Gorgonzola, however: for the past several hundred years, the cheese was called "stracchino verde." The name Gorgonzola came into force by law on 30 October 1955.
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