Last updated on August 11th, 2022 at 06:35 pm
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Queso Fresco or “fresh cheese” is a Mexican cheese that is traditionally made from raw cow milk. It can also be made from a combination of goat milk and cow milk.
In the United States you will more than likely find pasteurized versions of this fresh cheese. This cheese has a salty sour kick to it but is also creamy and light.
It does not have a buttery or rich flavor. Oftentimes you will find that it is paired with richer dishes such as huevos rancheros or enchiladas as it is a nice contrast to the richness of those dishes.
Queso Fresco has a light, mild, milky flavor which also pairs well with other light dishes such as salads or grilled vegetables. Traditional Queso Fresco will not last very long but the stuff that you find in the grocery stores will last a little longer as it has been vacuum sealed for freshness.
This cheese can easily be substituted for goat cheese or feta cheese. Queso Fresco is a soft cheese which crumbles wonderfully, making it a great topping for tacos.
Since this cheese goes bad pretty quickly many people will want to know if they can freeze it.
Queso Fresco can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. The best way to freeze Queso Fresco is either to vacuum seal it or to use a freezer safe container.
This will not only protect this soft cheese from freezer burn but it will also keep it from absorbing other food odors. If you do not have a vacuum sealer or a freezer safe container you can also use a heavy duty freezer bag.
You can either freeze the cheese as a whole or you can cut it into smaller chunks. The smaller pieces will allow the cheese to freeze faster and they will make a great snack straight from the freezer.
If you decide to freeze your Queso Fresco in small pieces you will want to make sure that the pieces have been separated while they are freezing so that they do not freeze together. When it is time for you to use your cheese, you will want to make sure it is completely thawed before you cook with it.
To thaw out your Queso Fresco you can set it out on the counter for twelve hours. You can also thaw Queso Fresco in the fridge but that will take around twenty-four hours to defrost.
Once you have thawed your cheese you will need to use it within three days.
How Long Is Queso Fresco Good For When Kept In The Fridge?
If you just bought some Queso Fresco you will likely want to know how long it will stay good in the fridge before you decide whether to freeze it or not.
Queso Fresco will stay good in the refrigerator for up to one month after its sell-by date. Anything longer than that and it should be disposed of.
According to a study done in 2010 which was presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society by Michael H. Tunick, Ph.D., Queso Fresco can last longer in the typical household fridge than it can in supermarket refrigeration units.
Over the course of eight weeks Doctor Tunick’s team studied the structure and texture of Queso Fresco in two different refrigeration temperature settings. The settings that they studied the cheese at were 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grocery store refrigeration units are typically kept at 50 degrees Fahrenheit while the average home fridge in the United States is kept at 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
In their study they found that the cheese begins to lose it’s structure when kept at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while Queso Fresco kept at a temperature of 39 degrees kept well for two months.
The final recommendation of this study was that Queso Fresco can be kept in the fridge for a month after it’s sell-by date, as the sell-by date is one month after the cheese has been made.
Is Queso Fresco A Good Melting Cheese?
If you have never really used Queso Fresco before but love the taste you might be wondering exactly how you can use it. Does it work well to melt over things like nachos, burritos, etc.?
Queso Fresco is often used in Mexican dishes but this soft cheese does not melt very well. It does however soften when it is cooked.
This cheese is often used as a filling in enchiladas and other dishes. It can also be served on a tortilla.
You can heat this soft cheese over a low heat to soften it to use as a dip but it will still have some cheesy chunky pieces. It will not create a smooth cheese sauce on it’s own.
You can, however, add milk to it to get it to melt into a smoother cheese sauce. To do this you will need to break your Queso Fresco into small pieces.
Place the small pieces of cheese into a pan which is over a low heat. Now you will add about ¾ of a cup of milk to the pan with your Queso Fresco. Stir this constantly while it is heating on the stove.
Eventually, this will melt into a smooth cheese sauce.
Is Queso Fresco The Same As Mozzarella Cheese?
Queso Fresco and mozzarella are both similar cheeses but they are not the same. They come from different animals and have a significantly different taste.
Queso Fresco is a fresh Mexican cheese which is made from fresh cow milk or a combination of cow milk and goat milk. It is an unaged cheese that is best when used within a few days of being made.
Queso Fresco has a light, milky flavor with a little bit of a sour kick. This cheese does soften but does not melt well on it’s own. It is often used as fillings in dishes or crumbled over tacos.
Mozzarella cheese is also an unaged cheese but it is not the same as Queso Fresco. Mozzarella cheese is a southern Italian cheese which is made from the milk of a water buffalo. It is not made from the milk of a bison or a North American buffalo as some people think.
This fresh semi-soft cheese is considered a healthy cheese as it has low fat and sodium contents. Mozzarella made from the milk of a water buffalo is also slightly healthier than mozzarella made from the milk of a cow as it has higher concentrations of protein, iron, and calcium.
It is also said to be able to lower cholesterol.
Most mozzarella cheese that you will find in grocery stores in the United States will be made with cow milk. Mozzarella cheese is drier than Queso Fresco and it has a salty flavor to it. It also melts better than Queso Fresco does.
Mozzarella cheese will melt rather easily and become stringy when it does melt. It is often used as a topping for pizza.
Since Queso Fresco is a wetter cheese, less salty, and does not melt well it would not be a good idea to interchange it with Mozzarella cheese.