There are many different types of Jack Cheese, Monterey Jack being one of them. Other popular Jack cheeses include Pepper Jack and Colby Jack cheeses. Pepper Jack being very similar to Monterey Jack but with heightened flavor with the addition of peppers throughout the cheese. Along with the Jack cheeses, Monterey Jack is similar to Muenster, Havarti and Gouda as well and is commonly substituted for any of those.
Monterey Jack is an American semi-hard, creamy cheese made from cow’s milk. The longer you age it, the firmer and crumblier the cheese will be. Monterey Jack cheese taste is slightly mild and because of that, it makes it the perfect addition for absolutely any dish. It pairs nicely with unoaked or lightly oaked white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay and light red wines like Pinot Noir.
There’s flexibility with Monterey Jack in terms of texture too. If you prefer a softer Jack cheese, as some people do, simply age your cheese for a month. However, if you prefer Dry Jack or Dry Monterey Jack cheese as it’s traditionally called, age your cheese for up to 6 months or more to achieve a firmer cheese.
Monterey Jack is known for having high calcium which is great for bone health. It is also high in protein as well which makes it a great addition to many meals.
Aging: 1-6 Months
Skill Level: Beginner
- 2.65 gallons of raw, whole cow’s milk
- 1/4 tsp of Mesophilic Culture
- 1 tsp of Rennet diluted in 50ml of water
- 15 grams of non-iodized cheese or Kosher salt
- Optional: finely sliced pepper, chilies, horseradish or garden herbs.
Heat the Milk & Add Culture
- Heat your milk up. When it reaches 90°F you can start to add your culture in and stir.
- You can do this by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If you do this step on the stove, be sure to slowly heat the milk and stir to avoid burning.
- Allow the milk to ripen for 45 minutes.
- After ripening for 1 hour, you can add your diluted Rennet and 15 grams of cheese or Kosher salt.
- Stir vigorously for 1 minute.
- Allow it to rest for an additional 1 hour or until you have a clean break
Cut the Curd
- After an hour, your curd should be ready to be cut, if not, allow it to sit for longer.
- Cut the curd into 1cm cube size pieces.
- Allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
Heat the Curds
- Slowly heat the curds until they reach a temperature of about 100°F.
- This process should take 30 minutes and should be done very gradually as it makes the cheese moister.
- Regularly stir during the heating process to prevent matting.
- Once the temperature is reached, maintain the temperature at 100°F for a further 30 minutes.
- Continue to stir.
- Allow the curds to rest for 5 minutes after the time has been reached.
Drain the Curds
- Pour the whey out so that the curds are just slightly showing at the bottom of the pot.
- Allow the curds to set for another 30 minutes, with stirring occurring every 5 minutes.
- Gently pour the remaining mixture into a colander that is lined with cheesecloth.
Mold & Press the Cheese
- After draining is complete, you can add any of the optional ingredients and 15 grams of more salt to the curds and mix.
- Pour the mixture into a mold and press the curds at 10 lbs. for 20 minutes.
- Remove, flip and rewrap the curds.
- Continue to press from 22 lbs. for another 20 minutes.
- Remove, flip and rewrap.
- Continue to press at 33 lbs. for 12 hours.
- Remove and unwrap the cheese.
Brining and Aging
- Wash the cheese with a brine.
- Air dry your cheese at room temperature for 3 days.
- When the rind has turned a darker yellow and the cheese is dry to the touch you should either wax or vacuum seal.
- Allow the cheese to age for 1 to 6 months.
- Turn the cheese every couple of days in the first month and then once a week for the remaining time.
As the cheese ages, it will gradually become crumblier and firmer.
For a more in-depth look at How To Make Monterey Jack Cheese watch this video
Video Credit to Homemade Recipes