WHAT ARE HISPANIC CHEESES?
Mexican and Caribbean Cuisine is “IN”!
It can be hot, not it seems everyone thinks its cool! But, surprise, the cheeses are not spicy. People familiar with this cuisine know that the cheese is mild – with occasional hot, spicy peppers on top.
Today, we know that Italian cuisine requires Italian cheeses. Can you imagine grating American cheese over pasta?! The same is true of Caribbean and Mexican cuisine. The dishes look and taste better with authentic cheeses in them.
Why? Because Hispanic cheeses are different from American or European cheeses. They look, cook and taste different. Authentic recipes require authentic cheeses.
What are the types of Hispanic cheeses??
FRESH CHEESES. The most popular varieties of Hispanic cheese are fresh, white cheeses with names like “Queso Blanco,” “Panela,” “Queso Fresco,” “Queso Del Rancho,” and “Queso Para Freir.” These cheeses do not melt when heated and are often crumbled over salads or as a cooking ingredient. They are wonderful as snacking cheeses and are often served as a dessert with tropical fruit.
Queso Fresco—The most popular cheese among many people of Mexican descent due to its fine-grained texture. It is crumbled over salads or eaten as a snack. Make superior Refried Beans by adding the cheese, crumbled, before heating. It is most popularly sold without a vacuum package, in a rigid clear plastic tray—with 49 day shelf life. The non-vacuum package gives the cheese a fresh, light texture that is the hallmark of authentic Queso Fresco. The product is also available vacuum packaged with 90 day shelf life.
Queso Fresco d’Hoja—Queso Fresco cheese wrapped in a plaintain or maize leaf. This product is authentic! The leaves impart a mild taste that reflects the manner in which cheese is brought to local markets in many areas of Latin America. The cheeses are most popularly sold without a vacuum package, in a rigid clear plastic tray—with 49 day shelf life. The cheeses are also available vacuum packaged with 90 day shelf life.
Queso Blanco—The most popular cheese among Hispanics from the Caribbean and Central America, Queso Blanco is a white, crumbly cheese that does not melt. When heated, it turns crisp and golden brown on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, releasing its buttery flavor. For a special appetizer, fry cheese cubes or sticks in a non-stick skillet or deep fat fryer. Serve with salsas or chutneys. Fried cubes make great salad croutons. Use as a stuffing in enchiladas or ravioli to improve the end dish presentation: the final dish will be firmer and cheesier with less cheese run-out. For a surprising touch, add the crumbled cheese to ground meat, make patties, and heat to make “Cheese-in-the-Burgers.” We make several variations of Queso Blanco that are sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 60 – 180 days.
Queso Blanco con FrutasTM Pina Y Mango—Our unique combination of sweet bits of pineapple and mango with the fresh cheese taste of our Questo Blanco. The cheese is a delightful treat, especially heated or fried. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 60 – 75 days.
Panela Basket cheese—Another very popular cheese among people of Mexican descent. The cheese is hand-formed in baskets and weights between 12 oz up to 6 pounds. Panela has a smoother texture than Queso Fresco or Queso Blanco and a mild, creamy taste. Put cheese cubes on a skewer with raw vegetables and heat to make “Mexican Shish-Ke-Bab.” Or, fry thin strips and use instead of meat to make Vegetarian Fajitas. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 60 – 90 days.
Queso Para Freir—Very popular among people from the Caribbean, this cheese is used frequently for frying. Use it to make “inside-out” grilled cheese sandwiches—cheese on the outside and the bread on the inside! The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 90-180 days.
Queso En Terron—Popular among Central American consumers, this is cubed cheese in a tray with no vacuum seal. The cheese is mild but salty. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of 49 days.
The second most popular group of Hispanic cheeses are rich, melting cheeses. These cheeses have names like “Queso Quesadilla,” “Chihuahua,” “Asadero,” “Menonita”, “Oaxaca,” and “Queso Para Derritier.” These Hispanic cheeses melt with a smooth, creamy consistency without separating into solids and oil. For example, use Hispanic melting cheeses in Quesadillas or Nachos. The finished dishes will be cheesier since the melted cheese will be in the right place—on the tortilla or the chips—not spread all over the plate!
Queso Quesadilla—Our most popular Hispanic Melting Cheese, this cheese originated in Northern Sinaloa, Mexico. It is a white cheese with a smooth, creamy texture that is ideal for melting. Use it to make extra cheesy Quesadillas. Top Huevos Rancheros for a Mexican breakfast dish. Or create a creamy filling for Enchiladas Verdes with shredded chicken. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-210 days.
Asadero—A smooth cheese with an ivory hue and a rewarding flavor, this cheese is ideal for baking. In fact, “asadero” means “baking” in Spanish. Use the cheese to make “Mexican Lasagna,” a layered tortilla casserole. Corn tortillas replace noodles and are briefly fried, blotted dry and layered with tomato or tomatillo sauce. Add vegetables, greens, or meats. Each layer should contain lots of shredded Asadero cheese! The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-210 days.
Queso Jalapeno—A smooth, soft cheese with bits of Jalapeno pepper in it. Ideal for making mildly spicy quesadillas or for snacking anytime. Or, give pizzas an extra flair by topping the crust with salsa, shredded Queso Jalapeno cheese, and diced vegetables like peppers and olives. Substitute flour tortillas for pizza crust to make individual “Mexican Pizzas.” The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-210 days.
HARD CHEESES. The third major group of Hispanic cheeses are hard, grating-style cheeses. These cheeses have names like “Cotija,” “Seco,” “Duro Blando,” “Cincho” and “Anejo Enchilado.” They all have a strong flavor, and a dry, crumbly texture. They are used as ingredients, garnishes, and seasonings. Think of them as spices, not just cheeses.
Cotija—The most popular Mexican grating cheese. The cheese is hard, strong-flavored, and ideal for grating. It is called the "Parmesan of Mexican cooking.” Cotija is used a flavor enhancer in many dishes and as a garnish. A small amount of Cotija added to most Hispanic dishes will give the finished dish a truly authentic Mexican taste. Sprinkle over nachos, refried beans, taco dip, or soup to give the dishes extra flavor and eye appeal. Use instead of salt on corn-on-the-cob or popcorn. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-365 days.
Anejo Enchilado—A firm cheese rolled in paprika that can be easily grated or crumbled. The cheese is not as dry as Cotija, so it makes an easy crumbled topping or stuffing ingredient. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-210 days.
Seco / DuroBlando /Morolique/ Costeno. These varieties are the most popular Central American hard cheeses. The cheeses have a pungent smell, strong flavor and are salty. They are hard enough for grating but are commonly used for crumbling as an ingredient without grating. They are the most popular hard cheeses in Nicaragura, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Columbia. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-365 days.
Cincho—This cheese is hard, strongly flavored and is pressed using a rope to hold the cheese together. The rope markings are distinctive and clearly visible. The cheese is coated in paprika replicating its authentic appearance. The cheeses is sold vacuum packed with a shelf life of between 180-365 days.