Over a thousand years ago in the town of Gorgonzola in Lombardy, weary herds returning from alpine pastures to the rich prairies of the Po valley would stop to rest before continuing their transhumance.
The name of this wonderful blue goes back to the time when cheese makers made a cheese with the surplus milk from these tired cows, nicknaming it Stracchino di Gorgonzola (stracco meaning “tired.”)
One day in the 11th century, a distracted farmer set aside a batch of curd to drain and forgot about it overnight. In the morning, realizing his mistake but not wanting to lose the product of his milking, he added it to the morning’s milk and ended up with a blue cheese, veined with greenish mould. Thus through one of history’s lucky mistakes was born gorgonzola.
For several decades during this period gorgonzola was sold coated with a mixture of powdered red brick, fat and saffron.
There exists a “due paste” or “two curd” gorgonzola with a very pronounced flavour, though it is not very well known. Its production is more complicated since it involves milk from two milkings: the curd of the evening milking is placed in the centre and the curd from the next morning’s milk around the edge, bottom and top. It then rests in a wooden cylindrical mold covered with cloth. The cheese must be turned every two hours while being pressed.
The variety of Gorgonzola that is most often found on our tables is mild, made from a single curd, and produced from whole cow’s milk from a single milking, usually pasteurized. It is mixed in large vats with the addition of lactic starters, rennet and penicillin spores. After a salting period, a time spent in “purgatory” for curing and four weeks of aging, the cheese is pierced half-way through with large copper or stainless steel needles in order to promote mould growth.
A few days later, the cheese is turned and the procedure is repeated on the other side so that the air can get in.
|Production region||provinces of Novara, Vercelli, Cuneo, Alessandria, Pavia, Milan, Como, Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona|
|Curd||soft and creamy, white or straw-coloured, veined with blue|
|Rind||hard, rough, reddish
|weight||6 to 12 kg|
|diameter||25 to 30 cm|
|height||16 to 20 cm|
It is usually covered with aluminum foil to prevent weight loss due to evaporation and to keep the rind from breaking or splitting
mild, slightly pronounced, except in the two-curd variety
High in fat, minerals, proteins, vitamins A, B1, B2 and D
How to serve gorgonzola
serve with slices of toasted country bread
or a slice of hot polenta
serve at the end of a meal with pears
As a filling
recommended for stuffing fennel bulbs
specialty of northeastern Italy: polenta balls stuffed with gorgonzola, heated in the oven until the cheese melts
melt some gorgonzola; add some butter and crème fraîche;
whisk together until smooth.
Hints & Tips