Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Happy News about Blue Cheese

Recently, the question came up about whether or not blue-veined cheeses are gluten-free. It's a fair question to ask, given that blue cheeses (Roquefort in France, Stilton in England, Gorgonzola in Italy, Danablu in Denmark, and Maytag Blue in the U.S., for example) are made using mold derived from the Penicillium bacteria. That mold, in turn, is traditionally and historically grown on bread as the substrate. And bread, of course, means gluten. Right?

In instances where bread was used to grow the mold, yes, gluten could (and did) find its way into the cheese. Nowadays, for artisanal blue cheeses still made according to historical guidelines, gluten remains a concern, and not all blue cheeses are gluten-free.

However, today many (if not most) blue cheeses are gluten-free, by virtue of the fact that the molds are now developed in a laboratory setting with a chemical substrate free of gluten. So, to offer three examples (hardly an exhaustive list), the Bel Gioioso cheeses, Point Reyes cheeses, and Rosenborg cheeses are all gluten-free. And there are many others.

If your favorite blue cheese company doesn't have a gluten statement on their website, your best bet is to check with the particular company that makes the cheese in question – they would be able to definitively answer whethere or not the cheese is gluten-free. While more and more companies are making gluten-free blue cheeses, not all do, and so the safest route is to ask. The fact remains, though, that most blue cheeses will be gluten-free. So if blue-veined cheeses are your thing, rejoice!

(Thanks to one of our readers, Mike, for writing in with the question!)

- Pete


GFE--gluten free easily said...

Yes, this is good news for all blue cheese lovers. The concern tends to be one that some people are not even aware of, so it's good that more and more blue cheeses are now developed in a lab setting as you described.

I think the artisanal guys need to consider people with food intolerances/allergies and let historical accuracy slide a bit. I've also read that the glue/sealant used on most envelopes does not contain gluten, but that the artisanal stationery makers still use gluten in their glue.

Anyway, thanks for posting this info! Someone had just asked me about this subject the other day. I sent her info, but will send her a link to your post now as well. :-)


Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

Awesome post!!! I've never eaten blue cheese because I had heard a "rumor" that all contained gluten. Thanks for including some of the GF blue cheese brands -- I will definitely check them out!