Bleu de Gex is a blue cheese made from the unpasteurized milk of Montbeliardes cows.
The milk is heated to 80 F (27 C), Rennet is added, then the curds are cut to the size of small peas, and moulded. It is dry-salted over a period of 4 to 6 days. It can be ripened in as little as 3 weeks, but is usually allowed to mature 2 to 3 months at 54 F (12 C.) During this time, the cheeses are turned 3 to 4 times a week. The name GEX is stamped in the rind of each cheese. The rind also develops a white powder on it.
When young the cheese is very mild; as it ages gets more robust. The cheese is yellowy inside, and semi-firm, with pale blue-green veins.
It is made in the Haut-Jura, which straddles the Ain and Jura départements in the Franche-Comté region on the Swiss border.
It is made in a wheel shape, 14 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches tall. (34 – 35 cm x 8 – 10 cm), depending on the cheesemaker. The average cheese weighs 12 to 14 pounds (7.5 kg.)
There are four dairies making it:
- Coopérative fromagère de l’Abbaye (in Chezery-Forens);
- Coopérative fromagère du Haut-Jura (in Les Moussières);
- Fromagerie Rietmann Laitier (in Villard Saint Sauveur);
- Vagne Fromageries (in Poligny.)
Some people feel that the flavour of the cheese is influenced by the violets that the cows are allowed to eat while grazing in the Haut-Jura pastures, though people unaccustomed to munching on violets themselves might not recognize the taste at first.
This is an EEC Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese.
Melts very well.
1 cup, crumbled = ¼ pound = 115g
Bleu de Gex is said to have its roots in cheesemaking done by monks at Saint Claude’s Abbey in the 1200s. Historically, it was left to develop mould naturally, but that was a bit hit and miss, so it is now inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum.