Fresh, Soft and Semi-Soft, and Semi-Hard and Hard- we’re talking about nothing but everyone’s favorite food- CHEESE. Most of the people have a pretty strong interest in eating cheese. This may be because of its rich protein content and “can’t get enough of it” taste. Sliced, shredded, or melted, nothing on earth makes an insipid dish tastes good like a hearty layer of cheese.
Whether you choose Queso Fresco, prefer Oaxaca, favor Asadero, or feel like Cotija, you should know that cheese is one of the healthiest foods out there.
Mexican cheeses have a history that starts with the Spanish conquest, as dairy products were unidentified in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Spanish brought dairy animals and cheese production techniques. Over the colonial period, cheesemaking was altered to suit the mixed European and native tastes of the settlers of New Spain, varying by area. This blending and contrast have given rise to a range of varieties of Mexican cheeses. Almost all Mexican cheeses are made with cow’s milk, and with some made from goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Here’s your Fresh Is Best guide to the several types of Mexican cheeses you should get to know so that you can give every boring meal an extra special kick!
The most common Mexican cheese, Queso Fresco means ‘fresh cheese.’ This Mexican cheese is traditionally made from cow milk or a combination of goat and cow milk that has been curdled with an enzyme called rennet. Queso Fresco is elastic, unaged and tastes bright, milky, mild and slightly salty. When heated, it browns and keeps its crumbly consistency. Fresco wants to be crumbled on everything from enchiladas, refried beans, egg dishes to salads & tacos.
Locally known as Queso Jarocho, Queso Blanco is very similar to Queso Fresco. It is a soft, fresh cheese, made from milk that has been curdled with an acid like lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid. The term Queso Blanco means ‘white cheese.’ When heated, Queso Blanco softens and becomes creamier, yet it holds its shape, and hence, it is known as “frying” cheese.
Named after the town of Cotija in Mexico, Cotija is a Hispanic-style cheese, made mainly from cow’s milk. When Cotija is made, it is white, fresh and salty, but with aging, it becomes hard and crumbly. This cheese is extremely salty, strongly flavored, and does not really melt. It is a popular cheese in Mexico to enhance the flavor of many savory dishes. In U.S., this is one of the best enjoyed cheeses on pasta.
Oaxaca is a string curd cheese, kneaded and sold in long ribbon rolled up in balls. It has a rich, savory mellow buttery flavor. Oaxaca actually melts when heated, and thus, it can be shredded or sliced on tostadas, quesadillas, empanadas or chile rellenos. This Mexican cheese is a great stuffing cheese in baking recipes.
Originated in the Chihuahua region of northern Mexico, Chihuahua cheese has a salty, mild and slightly sour flavor with a nearly cheddar like sharpness. It is made from pasteurized or raw cow’s milk and is pale yellow in color. Fondues, pizzas, lasagnas, casserole dishes and other baking dishes can get just the perfectly melted cheesy goodness with Chihuahua. Commonly referred to as Queso Menonita, this cheese can be found in the form of blocks, round wheels, braids of cheese, or balls of cheese.
A Mexican basket cheese made from cows’ milk, Panela has a fine, semi-soft texture and more moisture than the other cheeses. It has a light and fresh flavor with a touch of salt. Panela retains its shape and remains perfectly manageable on the grill. People relish Queso panela, crumbled over tacos or chili or sliced on a hot corn tortilla or crusty bread. It is also eaten fresh as a snack or to top salads and some cold dishes.
Manchego is a Mexican cheese, similar in flavor to mild cheddar. It adds a nice salty, nutty flavor to dishes. The Mexican style of Manchego is made from cow’s milk. Terrific for melting, with Manchego on hand, the tastiest grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta dishes, or Mexican dishes are not hard to make. Manchego is also lovely on a cheeseburger or in macaroni and cheese.
Where to Find Mexican Cheeses in Vancouver
Earlier, Canadians in search of Mexican cheese had only one option: to go to Mexico. Today, cheeses made in Mexico—can be found in your region. If you’re a lover of Mexican cheeses, you’ll be happy you found Fresh Is Best. We carry most popular varieties of Mexican cheeses, from Queso Fresco, Oaxaca to Asadero and Cotija. Our products do not contain any additives or preservatives. So are you ready to experience the fresh and tasty goodness of Mexican cheeses in Vancouver? Get in touch.