Our Monterey Jack cheese recipe will guide you, step by step, to make a great textured and flavorful homemade Monterey Jack.
The best part?
With this simple, proven recipe, you’ll have more confidence in your cheese making, experience less stress and uncertainties throughout the process, and you’ll end up with a great homemade cheese.
That’s not all…
I will bring to your attention how to store, pair and use your homemade Monterey Jack cheese.
What Is Monetery Jack Cheese?
Monterey Jack is an American semi-hard, creamy cheese that is made using cow’s milk.
You can also find other ‘Jack Cheese’ varieties which include Pepper Jack and Colby Jack. But first things first, what’s the story behind the cheese we know as Monterey Jack?
Where Does Monterey Jack Cheese Come From?
The earliest forms of Monterey Jack cheese were made during the 18th century by the Spanish Franciscan friars of Monterey, Alta California.
The priests brought along grapes, olives, and cattle. The latter became an important source of meat and fresh milk which was used by the Franciscan friars to make cheese.
David Jack, a ruthless California businessman owned most of the land in Monterey and as such owned pretty much everything made on it.
That included the now popular white cheese known to the native Mexicans as Queso Blanco pais. Jack slapped his name on the cheese and sold it.
The cheese later came to be known eponymously as “Jack’s Cheese” and afterward Monterey Jack’s Cheese. It eventually came to be known as “Monterey Jack”. It has no relation whatsoever to the Mexican city of Monterrey.
Monterey Jack Cheese Recipes
The Monterey Jack cheese taste is slightly mild, making it a perfect cheese to be used in line-up of tasty meals. Here is some inspiration that I am sure you will love:
- Aussie Chicken with Mushrooms, Bacon, and Monterey Jack Cheese: This is a taste explosion waiting to happen in your mouth. The dish is cooked in a honey-mustard sauce so you know the taste experience will be fun paired with the Monterey Jack.
- Haddock Au Gratin is another of my favorite Monterey Jack cheese recipes. The fish in cream sauce and Jack cheese can only be described using two words, seductively flavorful.
- Other suggestions you can try are Enchilada Lasagna, Monterey Chicken tortilla casserole and some delightful Jack cheese and chive cornbread.
Photo: Daniel Olsen
What Wine Pairs Well With Monterey Jack?
As far as wine pairings go, this cheese goes quite well with unoaked or lightly oaked white wines such as sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Chardonnay.
Light red wines such as pinot noir also pair quite beautifully.
Nutritional Facts For Monterey Jack Cheese
A slice of Jack cheese contains 106 calories, of which 73% are fats, 1% carbohydrates, and 26% protein. The cheese also contains vitamins A and C, Calcium and Iron.
It is apparently safe to be consumed by pregnant women as it doesn’t cause any known adverse effects.
Monterey Jack Cheese Substitute
In case you ever need to substitute your Monterey Jack for some other type of cheese, you can use either of the following cheeses.
These cheeses are similar in texture to Jack cheese and are mildly flavored too.
Aging And Storing
Monterey Jack cheese should be stored in a cool area or a cheese fridge and left to age for 1 to 6 months.
It is important to turn the cheese every few days in the first month and once a week for the remaining months.
The longer you store Monterey Jack, the firmer and crumblier it will become.
Pepper Jack and the Colby-Monterey Jack Combo
Pepper Jack is a popular derivative of Monterey Jack cheese. The cheese is flavored with rosemary, sweet peppers, spicy jalapeños, Habanero chilies and garlic giving it an extra kick.
Colby Jack is Colby Cheese (another yellow, semi-hard cheese) that is mixed with Monterey Jack giving the resultant cheese a marbled look.
CoJack cheese can be described as having a mild to mellow flavor and is sold while still young and mild.
Photo: Stephen Shep
Monterey Jack Cheese Recipe
On the numerous occasions I have made Jack Cheese, I have come to rely on a simple yet fool-proof recipe. Using cow’s milk you can also make your own tasty Monterey Jack.
If you intend to get a softer Jack cheese, you should age your cheese for 1 month. You may, however, opt to age your cheese for up to 6 months with the result being a firmer, crumblier cheese known as Dry Jack or Dry Monterey Jack.
- Make Time: About 6 hours.
- Pressing Time: 12 hours.
- Aging: 1 to 6 months.
Monterey Jack Cheese Ingredients
- 10 liters of Raw, Whole Cow’s
- A 1/4 Teaspoon of Mesophilic Starter culture
- Rennet diluted in 50mls boiled and cooled water – amount according to makers instructions
- 15 grams non-iodized Kosher or cheese salt
- Optional – finely diced garden Herbs, Horseradish, Pepper or Chilies.
How to Make Monterey Jack Cheese
- Pour Milk into stockpot and heat to 32 degrees Celsius.
- Add the starter culture and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Leave the milk to ripen for 45 minutes.
- Stir in 15 grams of salt into the diluted Rennet.
- Pour the salty Rennet into the milk and stir for 1 minute.
- Leave the milk to set for 1 hour or until the curd has set with a clean break.
- Cut the curd into 1 cm cubes and then let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
- Heat to 38 degrees Celsius over 30 minutes. This means increasing the temperature no more than 1 degree every 5 minutes.
- Stir frequently during this time to stop the curds matting together.
- Once you have reached 38 degrees Celsius maintain this temperature for another 30 minutes, again stirring frequently to prevent matting.
- Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.
- Pour off the whey so that the curds are only just showing at the bottom of the pot.
- Leave the curds to set for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 to prevent matting.
- Pour the curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain remaining whey.
- Add 15 grams of salt and herbs if using and mix by hand.
- Pour curds into mold and press at 5kg for 20 minutes. (To double check your PSI check out our cheese pressure calculator)
- Remove, turn and redress and press at 10kg for 20 minutes.
- Remove, turn and redress and press at 15kg for 12 hours.
- Remove the cheese and wash with a brine
- Air dry at room temperature on cheese mats (cover with fly net) for 3 days.
- Wax or vacuum seal when cheese is dry to the touch and the rind has turned a darker yellow.
Do you have any questions or comments? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you! We hope you enjoy our monterey jack cheese recipe as much as we do.