Oaxaca cheese is widely recognized for its creamy, stringy texture and mozzarella-like flavor. It is made from cow’s milk, and its appellation of origin comes from Mexico, as do many other dry cheeses.
For cheese lovers, one of life’s greatest delights is enjoying a cold slice of cheese, whether it’s a quartirolo, Brie or cheddar. Not surprisingly, we are constantly on the lookout for new flavors and varieties of soft cheeses.
In this article, you will discover Oaxaca, a cheese with strong roots in Mexico that has become very popular in recent generations, even in the United States of America. Now, the important thing is to know more about this cheese.
¿What is Oaxaca Cheese?
The city of Oaxaca, Mexico is known for producing Oaxaca cheese, also called Quesillo. This elastic, creamy cheese has a slightly salty, buttery flavor and a yellowish-white color. It is usually sold in string form or rolled into a ball, with no hard edges or rind, to maintain its texture and taste.
Oaxaca cheese is a type of pasta filata cheese, similar to Muzzarella. Although the pasta filata process originated in Italy, it is believed that Dominican monks who settled in the Oaxaca region introduced the tradition to Mexico. As water buffalo milk was not readily available, they used cow’s milk, which was more affordable, to make the cheese.
How is it made
The production of Oaxaca cheese is unique and requires patience and manual skill, which makes it a highly valued cheese. To produce it, rennet is added to whole milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are then soaked in hot water to soften them and make them pliable. Finally, it is stretched and kneaded to create the characteristic stringy texture of Oaxaca.
Like mozzarella, Oaxaca is immersed in salt water at the end of the process to form a thin rind. Cacique, a producer of Oaxaca cheese, molds it into a rope shape and rolls it into a knot, following Mexican tradition.
Although most Oaxaca cheese is produced in Mexico, there are farmers and cheesemakers in the United States who have learned how to produce it. Crave Brothers Farmstead is one such example, a family dairy farm located in Waterloo, Wisconsin, that makes and sells several types of cheese, including Oaxaca and mozzarella.
George Crave, one of the company’s partners, says Oaxaca is a delicious cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes and is perfect for snacking. According to him, it is a universal cheese that everyone likes.
Where to buy Oaxaca cheese
Oaxaca cheese can be found in many grocery stores and supermarkets in Mexico and the United States, as well as in specialty cheese shops and markets. It can also be purchased online from various retailers that offer a wide selection of cheeses. Some popular options for buying Oaxaca cheese online include Amazon, iGourmet, MexGrocer, Whole Foods, HEB and Publix, or in the specialty cheese section of your neighborhood grocery store, such as South Miami.
There are several cheeses that can be used as substitutes for Oaxaca cheese, depending on the recipe and personal taste preferences. Some common substitutes include:
- Mozzarella cheese: it has a similar texture and flavor to Oaxaca cheese, and is widely available in most grocery stores.
- Provolone cheese: it is a semi-hard cheese with a mild and buttery flavor that can work well as a substitute in some dishes.
- Fresh cheese: it is a crumbly and mild cheese that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine, and can be substituted for Oaxaca cheese in some dishes.
- Panela cheese: it is a fresh and mild cheese with a slightly salty taste, and can be a good substitute for Oaxaca cheese in some recipes.
- Monterey Jack: This semi-hard American cheese, made from cow’s milk, is known for its mild, nutty and slightly sweet flavor, velvety mouthfeel and good melting properties. It is a common cheese that can be found in most grocery stores.
It’s important to note that while these cheeses may have similar textures or flavors to Oaxaca cheese, they won’t be exactly the same.
Recipes with Oaxaca
Oaxaca cheese is a versatile cheese that can be used in a variety of recipes, especially in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Here are some popular recipes that use Oaxaca cheese:
- Quesadillas – Oaxaca cheese is a popular filling for quesadillas, a simple and delicious Mexican dish made with tortillas and various fillings.
- Chiles Rellenos – stuffed poblano peppers that are filled with Oaxaca cheese and other ingredients such as ground beef, rice, or beans.
- Tacos – Oaxaca cheese can be used as a topping for tacos, especially for vegetarian or seafood tacos.
- Enchiladas – a traditional Mexican dish made with tortillas filled with cheese and other ingredients, covered in a spicy tomato sauce and baked in the oven.
- Tostadas – Oaxaca cheese can be used as a topping for tostadas, a popular Mexican snack made with crispy tortillas topped with various ingredients such as beans, meat, lettuce, and salsa.
- Nachos – Oaxaca cheese can be used as a topping for nachos, a Tex-Mex dish made with tortilla chips, cheese, and various toppings such as beans, meat, and guacamole.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches – Oaxaca cheese is a great cheese to use for grilled cheese sandwiches, as it melts easily and has a creamy and mild flavor.
These are just a few examples, but Oaxaca cheese can be used in many other recipes as well, such as pizzas, omelets, and salads.
Oaxaca cheese has several health benefits due to its nutritional content. Some of the benefits include:
- Contains protein: Oaxaca cheese is a good source of protein, making it a suitable food for building and repairing body tissues.
- Calcium: Oaxaca cheese is a rich source of calcium, a mineral essential for bone and dental health.
- Vitamins: Oaxaca cheese also contains essential vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin B12, which are necessary for good eye health, brain function and red blood cell formation.
- Flavor and texture: Oaxaca cheese has a mild, creamy flavor and a stringy texture that makes it ideal for use in recipes that call for melted cheese, such as quesadillas, nachos and tacos.
However, like any other cheese, Oaxaca should be consumed in moderation due to its high fat and sodium content. It is important to include it in a balanced and varied diet.