Bleu d’Auvergne, AOC and AOP cheese

The Bleu d’Auvergne was granted an AOC in 1975 and is one of the five AOP cheeses of Auvergne.

Bleu d'Auvergne
Bleu d’Auvergne

It is a blue cheese or Fromage à pâte persillée produced from pasteurized cow’s milk

The notoriety and history of Auvergne cheeses underwent a major change in a period of only 150 years.

How did a rustic and understated local cheese evolve to become the AOP Bleu d’Auvergne?

Discover the story of the Bleu d’Auvergne.

As you can imagine, it didn’t appear in a day!

Fromage de Roquefort or Rochefort

Its story started in the département of Cantal, a region of lush green meadow located south-west of  Clermont Ferrand.

Bleu d'Auvergne labels
Bleu d’Auvergne labels

Generations of Cantal farmers indeed produced a 15cm tall cheese with a diameter of 30cm, which they called Fromage de Roquefort.

Why did they call their cheese Roquefort?

Some believe they took the name after its namesake of the Aveyron.

The common belief is that it was simply named after the nearby town of Rochefort-Montagne, as roque is the old French for roche.

Not only did their cheese originate from the local town of Rochefort, but its ‘discovery’ was also very similar to that of the Roquefort of Aveyron.

Indeed, it all started from a cheese which had been ‘forgotten’ in a dark and moist cellar and had therefore developed a blue mold.

Antoine Roussel’s discovery

The Bleu d’Auvergne is today on our tables thanks to the inquisitive and experimental mind of a cheese producer.

In 1845, Antoine Roussel indeed discovered that some of his Roquefort cheeses, which he had left for longer than usual in his cellar had not only developed a blue mold, but also a unique and rich flavour.

He immediately understood the potential of his discovery, and spent some time trying to reproduce the blue mold.

His experiences were eventually crowned with success, when he discovered that the cheese developed its beautiful blue veins when placed in contact with rye bread.

Bleu d'Auvergne
Bleu d’Auvergne

The penicillium (fungus) that had developed on the bread had indeed contaminated the cheese!

Antoine Roussel had the idea of adding Penicillium roqueforti to the milk.

He then pricked the cheeses with a long needle (pricker) during the phase of ripening in order to promote the spread of mould to the interior of the cheese.

This technique is very similar to that used for the Roquefort cheese in Aveyron.

It was so successful that other producers soon adopted it.

The cheeses produced were indeed excellent.

However, they were still far from the future Bleu d’Auvergne, despite their blue veins and special taste!

Creation of the Bleu d’Auvergne

Antoine Roussel therefore spent the following years perfecting and standardizing his method of production in order to produce the Bleu d’Auvergne.

Bleu d’Auvergne indeed has a smooth, moist, creamy and buttery texture, and a pronounced yet delicate savour.

It has a soft creamy colour evenly traversed by bluish-greenish veins, and a natural crust often covered with patches of white mold.

Bleu d’Auvergne is exclusively made from pasteurized cow’s milk  initially inoculated with lactic ferments and penicillium roqueforti.

Milk is then heated a second time before adding rennet (a natural enzyme) in order to trigger coagulation.

The curd is cut in blocks, drained and placed in a mould.

The Bleu is then turned out and salted by hand.

It is pricked and placed in a cool and moist yet ventilated cellar for at least 4 weeks in order to trigger the appearance of mold inside the cheese.

It is then ready for you to enjoy!

 Credits: Photo labels ©PapyPoustache – Source article Jean Piludu  -Translated and edited by and for Travel France Online – Wikimedia Commons: header –  Bleu d’Auvergne

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