Monterey Jack Cheese

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  • TextureSemi-soft
  • FlavorButtery, tangy
  • Pairings Red Wine White Wine Beer

What is Monterey Jack cheese?

Monterey Jack cheese is a true American original. It was first made by Mexican friars in Monterey, California, in the 1800s and first sold by an entrepreneur named David Jack. Because of its Mexican-American origins, it is often used in place of traditional Mexican shredding cheeses in a variety of Tex-Mex recipes, and is generally the first choice for flavoring with hot peppers to create spicy snacking cheeses.

What does Monterey Jack taste like? Is it spicy?

Monterey Jack has a delicate, buttery, slightly tart flavor. It is made almost identically to Colby, except that—like most Cheddars—Colby is naturally colored with annatto. While Monterey Jack is often classified as a semi-hard cheese—like Colby—the variety most popular in American markets has only been aged a month or so and is semi-soft like mozzarella. A lot of Monterey Jack is flavored with hot peppers to make “pepper jack” or mixed with Colby to create a yellow-and-white marbled cheese (marble jack or Co-jack) that’s used for shredding or snacking.

Pairings

Wine: Beaujolais, chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris, pinot noir, riesling, rosé, sauvignon blanc
Beer: American lager, blonde/golden or brown ale, Pilsner, saison ale
Food: Butter crackers, cured or smoked meats (ham, summer sausage), dried fruits, eggs, grapes, Mexican dishes, nuts, vegetables, water crackers, whole grain or wheat breads or crackers