In previous decades, if you wanted a blue cheese, you would need to look to European products. Today the United States has its own decorated cheesemakers, who are primarily based in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, and are known for their high-quality products. At the same time, many home cooks are realizing the simplicity and pleasure of making cheeses themselves. It requires some patience and equipment but can be a very rewarding project.
Blue cheese may not be the ideal cheese for someone new to cheesemaking because it is a relatively slow process that requires some special equipment. However, once you've mastered the basic concepts of ripening milk, renneting and working the curd, you should absolutely consider making it at home. There are several ways it differs from making a fresh cheese like ricotta.
In blue cheese, once the curds are formed, an inoculum is added to the mixture. This inoculum can be a solution of a small amount of blue cheese and water, or a penicillium. This will help initiate the ripening and blooming of the cheese. Of the many of penicillium types available, we suggest penicillium roqueforti, which is used in making Gorgonzola and Roquefort cheeses.
Next, the curds are loaded into a cheese press where they sit overnight. The next day, remove the cheese from the press to prepare it to aerate and ripen. Drill holes in the cheese to allow air to travel through as it ages. Place it in a 50F refrigerator with high humidity.
Over the course of the next two months, turn the cheese daily. You'll soon notice the formation of a white bloom on the surface of the cheese.
Finally, remove the round of cheese from the refrigerator and slice it open. You should see beautiful blue or green marbling throughout the inside of the cheese. The longer the cheese ages, the more marbling you'll see. This is the work of the penicillium that reproduced and facilitated the blooming of your wonderful homemade cheese. Enjoy!