Danish blue cheese, sometimes called Danablu, is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese commonly sold in the shape of a wedge, drum or block. Its appearance is distinguished by an off-white, creamy white or light yellow, slightly moist base riddled with distinct blue veins. Its taste is frequently described as biting and salty, and its odor is generally considered strong and heady. The rind on Danish blue cheese is edible, as is normally the case with other semisoft cheeses.
The blue veins in Danish blue cheese are made through the insertion of copper rods or wires into the cheese curds while they are forming and before the cheese is aged. Certain other blue cheeses insert the rods and mold after the cheese is formed. In both cases, the pathways formed by these rods are filled with mold called Penicillium roqueforti that is evenly distributed throughout the mass. After this step is complete, the cheese is aged in a cool, dark place, traditionally a cave designed for the purpose, for eight to 12 weeks. This process yields a cheese that normally has a fat content between 25% and 30%.
This cheese was created by Marius Boel in Denmark in the early part of the 20th century. It was meant to rival the taste, texture and aroma of Roquefort cheese, which was reportedly invented in 1070 AD. Famous predecessors to Roquefort and Danish blue cheese include Stilton, which can be traced back to the 18th century, and Gorgonzola, generally considered the oldest blue cheese, thought to have originated around 879 AD. Interestingly, history indicates that Gorgonzola did not have its distinguishing blue veins until the 11th century.
Culinary accounts of blue cheese history indicate it was most likely an accidental occurrence. The story is that caves were used to store many types of cheeses and other products that required refrigeration since there were no types of man-made refrigeration techniques available. When the temperatures and moisture levels in the caves fluctuated, molds reportedly formed on some of the cheeses. Instead of cutting the mold off of some of the cheese, a worker tasted it and found it had improved the original flavor of the product. Further experimentation found that inserting the mold into the cheese produced even better flavor and texture.
For years, Danish blue cheese was served in many countries mainly as a snack accompanied by crackers or toast, a crumbly topping for salads or with fruit as part of the dessert course. It is traditional in Denmark to top biscuits and breads with Danish blue cheese and serve it for breakfast or as a snack. This cheese, along with other varieties of blue cheese, has gained popularity in recent years as a topping for hamburgers, steaks and baked potatoes as well.