Mexican Cheese and Cream Queso Mexicano
Mexican Cheese and Cream
Queso Mexicano or Mexican Cheese ideal to complement your authentic Mexican food favorite dishes such as quesadillas, enchiladas, taquitos, sopes, mole, botanas, huevos & more. Mexican cheeses are divided in 4 types of categories:
- Fresh (Queso fresco blanco) Panela - crumbling (greek basket cheese)
- Melting cheese - Oaxaca
- Age or Anejo - Cotija
- Cream or cremoso
Mexican cheese has a history that began with the Spaniards since the diet of the first people who inhabited Mexico consisted mainly on a diet of the occasional wild game, fish, fowl, vegetables and fruits. When the Spaniards first introduced cows, sheep and goats it became the greatest sources of milk and meat in Mexico, permanently changing the dietary habits of its inhabitants forever. Spaniards also brought cheese making techniques from Spain, like Manchego.
Mexican society was greatly impacted by the changes in their diet by the Spanish Colonization. Even though cheese making was brought by the Spanish conquerors, with time it evolved into a regional occupation, a lifestyle which until today produces a variety of Mexican cheeses. This trade or way of living has become a family tradition, that gets its techniques, secrets, and ingredients passed on from generation to generation, perfecting it on the way and leading to the variety of cheeses produced today in Mexico.
Today, major cheese producing areas also include Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Toluca, Oaxaca, Queretaro, Michoacan, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes, Puebla and Guanajuato
The following list contains the most popular and frequently produced Mexican cheeses, with suggestions as for what you can use instead. A brief description of what the cheeses are and if it has alternate names.
Glossary of Mexican Cheeses - Quesos Mexicanos
Cheese is queso in Spanish. Some of these cheeses can be found in natural foods stores, Latin markets, and some supermarkets, especially in the West and Southwest.
Añejo: Meaning "aged," it’s the aged version of Queso Fresco. This is a dry, salty cheese that is also called queso cotija. It can be crumbled or grated and used as a garnish on tacos, salads and on a variety of dishes. Substitute Parmesan, Italian romano or even feta.
Asadero: "Broiler" or "roaster" cheese from Coahuila; a mild, soft, chewy, often braided cheese. Sold in tortilla-size slices or wound into balls. This cheese is used to make chile con queso, the Mexican fondue called Queso fundido, and the famous chiles rellenos. Substitute Oaxaca, mozzarella, fontina or Monterey jack.
Chihuahua: Mild, spongy, creamy and pale yellow. It gets stringy when heated. Just like the Asadero, it is used for making chiles rellenos or queso fundido. Substitute a mild cheddar such as gouda, longhorn, or Jack. Also called queso menonita.
Cuajada. Finely ground curds are football-shaped. Mild flavor. Used to be made from goat or sheep’s milk, now its made with cow’s milk. Cuajada is eaten as a dessert instead of yogurt, served with honey, walnuts and fruit.
Enchilado: Firm and dry cheese; surface colored with annato. Used sliced or grated, goes well poured over salad and grated over soups.
Fresco: Fresco means “fresh cheese.” It’s a fresh, salty, crumbly white cheese served with salads and salsas; spread on top of enchiladas and taquitos and used to make quesadillas or stuff chiles. Substitute with goat cheese or feta. Also called queso blanco, ranchero, quesito, and estilo casero.
Manchego: A sharp, hard Mexican cheese with a firm, compact and buttery yellow texture; its used for melting, eating it with crackers or fruit. Substitute Monterrey Jack, pecorino romano or parmesan.
Oaxaca: Native to Oaxaca from where it originates, is made in all of Mexico. A soft, white, string-type, stretched curd cheese, similar to Asadero, its kneaded and formed into balls. Popular cheese used to make quesadillas, you have to pull the strings apart before putting them on tortillas, or in your dishes. It can be eaten by pulling it apart or shredding it on top of cooked dishes. Substitute with mozzarella or string cheese.
Panela: A soft, salty cheese from central Mexico; the curds are scooped into baskets and drained. It is called Queso de Canasta because the cheese carries the basket shape from the mold it was made on. Panela is best eaten fresh, usually as an appetizer, as a top for salads or as a snack. Panela can also be crumbled over chili or tacos. You can even have it on a freshly made tortilla, right out of the comal. Substitute mozzarella.
Requeson: Similar to Ricotta Cheese, made from whey. soft, grainy texture and fresh milk tste. Used in salads, spreads and fillings in cooked foods and desserts.
Seco para Freir: A dry, salty, aged cheese used on crispy quesadillas or grated onto beans or other Mexican dishes. Won’t melt when heated, and is very similar to white cheese (queso blanco). This cheese can also be fried (queso frito). Substitue with Parmesan