Blue Cheese vs Roquefort

When exploring the world of cheese, you may often come across the term “blue cheese” which refers to a group of cheeses with the distinctive feature of having blue or blue-green mold veins. These veins are not just markers of identity but also contribute to the unique flavors these cheeses possess.

Within this category, Roquefort stands out as a specific type of blue cheese, with its own protected designation and characteristics that differentiate it from other members of the blue cheese family.

A platter with blue cheese and Roquefort on a rustic wooden board, accompanied by grapes, figs, and a selection of crackers

Understanding the differences between blue cheese and Roquefort can enhance your appreciation of their distinct tastes and textures.

While all blue cheeses share the process of having cultures of the mold Penicillium added, resulting in the signature veining and sharp, tangy profile, Roquefort holds a special place with its geographical and production specifics.

Made from sheep’s milk and produced in the south of France, Roquefort has a reputation for its fine quality and complex flavor profile. This profile is both rich and intense, set apart by its creamy yet crumbly texture.

Understanding Cheese Fundamentals

In this section, you’ll gain a foundational understanding of what cheese is and the different types that you may encounter, focusing on attributes like its dairy origins, nutritional components, and the diverse varieties available.

What Is Cheese?

Cheese is a dairy product that you can derive from the milk of various animals, such as cows, goats, or sheep.

It’s the result of coagulating milk protein, or casein, using cultures of bacteria or acid, along with the addition of an enzyme called rennet.

This process separates the milk into curds—the thicker part that becomes cheese—and whey, the liquid byproduct.

Types of Cheese

The varieties of cheese are vast, but they can generally be categorized by texture, flavor, and the milk source.

Common textures include soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard. The flavor can range from mild to sharp, often deepening with age.

When you consider cheese varieties, the source of milk significantly affects the taste and texture.

For instance, sheep’s milk imparts a rich, distinct flavor as found in Roquefort cheese.

Cheese is also an excellent source of protein and calcium, making it a valuable dietary addition. Keep in mind, though, that the nutritional content will vary across different cheese varieties.

Blue Cheese Characteristics

In this section, you’ll gain insights into the nature of blue cheese, from what sets it apart to its various types and unique flavor profile.

Defining Blue Cheese

Blue cheese, distinctive for its blue or blue-green mold (Penicillium) veins, is a category of cheeses that are ripe with character and history.

The introduction of these molds gives the cheese its characteristic spots or veins, which not only contribute to its robust flavor but also to the unique aroma that blue cheese lovers cherish.

Production and Types

The manufacturing process of blue cheese involves the inoculation of Penicillium cultures, which flourish within the cheese to create its signature veins.

Depending on the cheese-making practice, these veins may be spread throughout the cheese or more centralized and pronounced.

Common varieties of blue cheese include:

  • Gorgonzola: Often creamy with a mild to strong taste depending on its age.
  • Stilton: A British cheese, known for its rich flavor and semi-firm texture.
  • Roquefort: Made exclusively from sheep’s milk, with a notable tangy and crumbly quality.

Each type varies in taste, texture, and the milk from which it is made, be it cow, sheep, or goat.

Taste and Texture Profiles

When you indulge in blue cheese, you’re met with a tangy, sharp, and sometimes salty flavor profile which can range from mild to intensely strong.

The texture of blue cheeses can also differ dramatically:

  • Moisture: Varies from moist and creamy to dry and crumbly.
  • Taste: From subtly sweet to boldly sharp and salty.
  • Aroma: Can be pungent or mildly earthy.

Blue cheese’s robustness pairs well with sweeter balances like honey or fruits, which can enhance its intricate flavors and complement its rich aroma.

Exploring Roquefort Cheese

In the heart of French gastronomy lies the celebrated Roquefort cheese, a product of meticulous craftsmanship and unique regional influences. As you read on, you’ll discover the specific characteristics that set Roquefort apart from other blue cheeses.

What Is Roquefort?

Roquefort is a renowned blue cheese named after the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where it originated.

Distinctive for its blue veining and rich history, Roquefort is crafted exclusively from the milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep. This cheese is recognized by its Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) status, ensuring its production adheres to strict geographical and procedural standards.

Roquefort Production

The journey of Roquefort begins with high-quality ewe’s milk, sourced only from the Lacaune sheep, which grazes on the diverse flora of the region.

Following a traditional recipe, the milk is inoculated with spores of the Penicillium roqueforti mold, which is found naturally in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.

These caves provide the perfect conditions of humidity and temperature, contributing to the cheese’s characteristic texture and flavor profile. Production is carried out in accordance with rigorous methods to ensure a consistent and authentic product.

Tasting Notes

As you taste Roquefort, your palate is greeted by a sharp and tangy flavor, emanating from the signature blue veining.

The texture of Roquefort is semi-soft, with a certain moisture that melts in your mouth.

It’s known for being a salty cheese with a complex, deep flavor and an aromatic presence that is unmistakable.

The distinguished sharpness is balanced by a creamy richness, making it a sublime experience for those who savor complex cheeses.

Culinary Uses and Pairings

A table set with blue cheese and Roquefort, accompanied by grapes, honey, and crackers. A bottle of red wine and a glass complete the scene

When you explore the culinary world of blue cheese and Roquefort, your dishes can transform with their robust flavors.

From the intensity of Roquefort’s tangy and salty punch to the various nutty and mild profiles of blue cheeses, you’ll find their versatility in cooking and pairing indispensable.

Cheese in Cooking

In your kitchen, Roquefort’s assertive taste amplifies salads, sauces, and dressings.

This cheese, originating from the South of France, is well-suited for crumbling over greens or whisking into a dressy vinaigrette to create a rich and deep flavor profile.

On the other hand, blue cheese, like Gorgonzola, works beautifully melted into mushroom sauces or paired with pecans and walnuts for a delightful crunch in your recipes.

Wine and Cheese Pairings

Pairing wines with blue cheeses requires balance.

The salty and nutty taste of Roquefort contrasts elegantly with the sweetness of a Port wine, while lighter blue cheeses may pair better with a bold red.

Here’s a simple pairing guide to help your selection:

  • Roquefort: Sweet and bold Port or a smooth Sauternes
  • Gorgonzola: Full-bodied Merlot or Barolo

Complementary Food Items

For a perfectly curated cheese board, consider the following pairings to elevate the flavors of your blue cheeses:

  • Honey: Drizzle over Roquefort for a sweet and salty sensation.
  • Dried Fruit: Pair with figs or apricots to complement the cheese’s tang.
  • Pears and Apples: Fresh slices bring out the creaminess of blue cheese.
  • Bread: Serve with crusty baguettes or nutty whole-grain loaves.

Cheese Production and Aging

Milk curdles in large vats. Mold is added for blue cheese, while roquefort is aged in caves. Both cheeses are carefully monitored and turned regularly for optimal flavor development

In understanding blue cheese and Roquefort, you’ll find that their unique characteristics develop through distinct cheesemaking processes and aging conditions.

Cheesemaking Process

The beginning of your blue cheese or Roquefort journey starts with the selection of milk.

Roquefort cheese is strictly made from the milk of Lacaune sheep found in France, particularly around Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.

Italian Gorgonzola, on the other hand, is traditionally made from cow’s milk.

The cheesemaking process involves cultivating the milk with Penicillium roqueforti mold, which is responsible for the distinctive blue veins in the cheese.

This mold is introduced either by mixing it into the milk or by injecting it into the cheese during its early curing stages.

  • Cow’s milk: Used for blue cheeses like Gorgonzola, imparting a range of flavors from milder to sharper profiles.
  • Sheep’s milk: The exclusive choice for Roquefort, contributing to its pronounced, pungent aroma and full-bodied taste.
  • Goat’s milk: Occasionally used for other varieties of blue cheese, adding a distinct, tangy flavor.

Aging and Maturation

After the initial stages of cheesemaking, the wheels of cheese are then transferred to aging environments, where the magic of maturation takes place.

For Roquefort, this specifically means the natural limestone caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where the cool and humid conditions enable the Penicillium roqueforti mold to flourish, creating the cheese’s characteristic blue-green veins and bold, tangy flavors.

  • Roquefort: Aged in natural caves that offer the perfect humidity and temperature for maturation.
  • Gorgonzola and other blue cheeses: Usually aged in more controlled environments that can replicate cave-like conditions, such as a refrigerated aging room.

The aging period can vary tremendously, from a few months to over a year, greatly affecting the cheese’s texture and intensity.

During this time, cheeses develop their unique flavor profiles, from mildly nutty to intensely pungent.

Regular turning and piercing of the cheese wheels ensures an even distribution of mold and aeration, critical to achieving the perfect balance of taste and aroma you expect from high-quality blue cheese and Roquefort.

Nutritional Aspects

When choosing between Roquefort and other types of blue cheese, you should consider their distinct nutritional profiles, which offer a range of health benefits and require certain dietary considerations.

Health Benefits

Roquefort is a sheep’s milk cheese that is particularly rich in calcium and probiotics due to the presence of Penicillium roqueforti, which is essential for good gut health.

A single ounce of Roquefort provides you with beneficial bacteria as well as a substantial amount of your daily calcium needs, crucial for bone health.

Additionally, like many cheeses, Roquefort is a good source of protein, contributing to muscle repair and growth.

Dietary Considerations

While Roquefort has its benefits, sodium is an element to monitor, as Roquefort contains significantly higher levels compared to generic blue cheese variants.

If you’re watching your sodium intake, be mindful of how much Roquefort you consume.

Despite the richer flavor, it could potentially lead to increased blood pressure if consumed in large quantities.

Similarly, consider pairing smaller portions of these cheeses with nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables to maintain a balanced diet.

Here’s a quick reference for some key nutritional differences:

NutrientRoquefortBlue Cheese
Vitamin A RAEHigherLower
Vitamin B2HigherLower
Vitamin B12LowerHigher

Historical and Cultural Significance

In exploring blue cheese and Roquefort, you’ll discover rich narratives tied to ancient practices and global distinctions. These cheeses are not just culinary delights but are steeped in history and cultural identity.

Origins and Legends

Roquefort is steeped in history, with its origins rooted in the rugged terrain of southern France.

According to legend, a young shepherd left behind a piece of bread and sheep’s milk cheese in the caves of Roquefort.

Upon his return, he found the cheese had been transformed by the Penicillium roqueforti mold that grew in the limestone caverns.

The actual history dates back to at least the Middle Ages, making Roquefort one of the world’s oldest known blue cheeses.

Its production is confined to a specific region due to its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, ensuring its traditional methodology and regional integrity remain intact.

  • Location: Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, Southern France
  • Significant Component: Penicillium roqueforti mold
  • PDO Status since: January 26, 1925

Global Influence

You might see blue cheese as a broad term encompassing varieties that include Roquefort, hailing from distinct regions worldwide.

While Roquefort holds a celebrated position in France, other countries like Italy have developed their unique blue cheeses.

The influence of blue cheeses, including Roquefort, has been profound, contributing to a rich tapestry of flavors and culinary practices across cultures.

The PDO framework that protects Roquefort’s uniqueness is mirrored in various regions, helping maintain the integrity and history of these storied cheeses.

Cheese Storage and Handling

Proper storage and handling are crucial to maintaining the quality and flavor of blue cheese and Roquefort. The right technique can extend the life of your cheese and ensure it tastes as intended.

Preservation Techniques

Blue Cheese:

  • Refrigerate: Wrap your blue cheese in wax paper and then place it in a plastic bag to preserve its moisture. Store it in the refrigerator at a temperature between 35°F and 45°F (1.7°C to 7.2°C).
  • Freezing: While freezing can extend shelf life, it may alter the texture. Freeze in small portions, tightly wrapped in plastic and then sealed in an airtight container.


  • Sheep’s Milk Fragility: Roquefort, made exclusively from sheep’s milk, requires careful handling. Refrigeration is necessary, ideally in a vegetable drawer where humidity is higher.
  • No Freezing: Freezing Roquefort is not recommended as it can severely damage the delicate structure and flavor.

Serving Recommendations

  • Temperature: Remove your cheese from the refrigerator at least half an hour before serving. This allows the fats within the cheese to relax, enhancing the flavor and aroma.
  • Cutting Blue Cheese: Use a knife dipped in warm water for a clean cut. For Roquefort, a wire cheese cutter yields the best results.
  • Repeat Storage: After serving, rewrap using fresh wax paper and store as recommended above to keep the cheese fresh for your next indulgence.

Comparing Blue Cheese and Roquefort

In this section, you’ll learn about the distinct qualities that set blue cheese and Roquefort apart, from their unique flavors and textures to their deep-rooted origins and specialized production techniques.

Taste and Texture

Blue cheese offers a range of flavors and textures, as it encompasses several types of cheeses.

You might experience a sharp, salty flavor with a creamy to crumbly texture.

Roquefort, specifically, has a tangy, rich, and intense flavor with a characteristically moist and smooth texture.

The difference in milk origin, such as cow for blue cheese and sheep for Roquefort, contributes to these taste and texture contrasts.

Cultural and Geographic Origins

While blue cheese can be made around the world, Roquefort cheese boasts a protected designation of origin (PDO) status.

Roquefort is exclusively produced in the south of France.

The history of this cheese is deeply connected to the region’s culture and environment, requiring very specific natural conditions found in the Roquefort caves.

Cheese Making Techniques

One of the primary differences in cheese making is the type of milk used.

Blue cheese can be made from cow, goat, or sheep’s milk, whereas Roquefort is made solely from the milk of Lacaune sheep.

During Roquefort’s production, the cheese is aged in the Combalou caves, providing a unique environment that introduces the mold Penicillium roqueforti, which is integral to its flavor profile. This differs from the more general process used for other blue cheeses.

Culinary Applications

Your culinary experience with these cheeses will vary.

Blue cheese is versatile, used in dressings, as a topping, or even as a standalone snack.

Roquefort’s assertive flavor is often preferred in salads, pastas, or on top of meats, providing a burst of flavor that is both nuanced and specific to its origin.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you will find precise answers to some of the most common queries regarding the differences and specifics of blue cheese and Roquefort.

What are the differences in taste between blue cheese and Roquefort?

Roquefort features a tangy, sharp, and slightly salty flavor profile, while blue cheese, depending on the variety, can range from mild to sharp with a creamy to crumbly texture.

Can Roquefort cheese be substituted with a different type of blue cheese?

Yes, you can substitute Roquefort with other types of blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Stilton, especially if you are looking for a similar texture and a pungent, savory taste.

How do the prices of blue cheese and Roquefort compare?

Generally, Roquefort can be more expensive than some other blue cheeses. This is due to its AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) protection and imported status.

What distinguishes Roquefort cheese from other varieties of blue cheese?

Roquefort is a specific type of blue cheese made from sheep’s milk in the region of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in France. It has a distinct set of characteristics safeguarded by the European Union designation of origin.

What are the characteristics that set Roquefort apart from Gorgonzola and Stilton?

Roquefort is creamy and crumbly with a sharp, tangy flavor, made from sheep’s milk. In contrast, Gorgonzola is typically milder and creamier from cow’s milk, and Stilton is known for its rich, mellow flavor and semi-firm texture, also from cow’s milk.

What types of blue cheese are commonly available in the UK?

In the UK, widely available blue cheeses include Stilton, the native British blue cheese, along with Danish Blue, Roquefort, and Gorgonzola.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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