Bleu d’Auvergne is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) cheese that is very well-rounded, much like the land it comes from, a land of volcanoes that offers this aromatic and flavourful delicacy.
- AOC since 1975.
- Cylinder 20 cm in diameter and 8-to-10-cm thick. Weight: approximately 2.5 kg.
- 50% fat content.
- The cheese is ivory-coloured with regular veins of blue-coloured mould.
- Production: 6,130 tonnes.
Bleu d’Auvergne is best paired with a red Auvergne wine such as Bondes or Cahors.
It is used as an ingredient in many delicious dishes: Bleu d’Auvergne cheese mousse with nuts, cauliflower and broccoli with blue cheese, and various appetisers from Auvergne.
The milk is mixed with penicillium, microscopic fungi that are the source of the blue mould. Approximately 23 litres of milk are required to make a single wheel of Bleu d’Auvergne.
The curd, once it has been cut, is gently stirred to create a thin shell; it is also said that the curd grains are “styled”, and they are then placed in moulds.
Afterwards comes the salting step: coarse salt is put on the sides and the top of the cheese and it slowly penetrates to the inside.
In order to grow, the mould needs oxygen. This is why the cheese is pierced with needles when it is placed in the ageing cellars in order to facilitate aeration all the way to its centre. Then Bleu d’Auvergne is aged in cool, damp cellars for at least four weeks to give it its creaminess and flavour over time.
In 1848, Antoine Roussel, who was originally from Laqueuille in northern Puy-de-Dôme, a region where there were several caves for ageing blue cheese, improved upon local cheesemaking techniques: it was the beginning of generalised milk heating (pasteurisation), which allowed for more uniformity, the inoculation of moulds from ground up, mouldy rye bread, piercing with large needles, and cold ageing.
The production area covers the mountains of Cantal, Mont-Dore, and Cézallier, in other words Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal, and several villages in the Haute-Loire, Lozère, Corrèze, and Lot departments. The volcanic ground has rich soil and is an excellent area with grasses for pasturing. Cows can feed there on an abundant amount of various plants, particularly gentian, an indisputable symbol of Auvergne.