Monterey Jack is an American semi-hard cheese made using cow's milk. It is commonly sold by itself, or mixed with Colby cheese to make a marbled cheese known as Colby-Jack (or Co-Jack.Monterey. It is a cheese which originated along the central California coast, and has since spread throughout the United States. Two versions of Monterey Jack are available, a fresh cheese version called dry Jack, which tends to be available only in specialty shops. A variant, Sonoma Jack, comes from Sonoma County, California. Some producers add herbs or hot peppers to make herbed Jack or pepper Jack cheeses. Monterey Jack is also sometimes blended with Colby, another mild American cheese, to make Colby Jack. One of the most coveted varieties of Monterey Jack is dry Jack, an aged version of the cheese which can be difficult to find outside of California. Dry Jack acquires a much more complex, sharp flavour and it turns hard enough to be grated and used like Parmesan.
Chopped monterey jack cheese
Place the cheese slab on a chopping board and chop it into small pieces. It can be finely or roughly chopped or even chopped into big chunks as per recipe requirement.
Grated monterey jack cheese
This requires grating the cheese slabs on a hand held grater. This grated cheese is fine in texture and is used for making baked dishes like au gratin or casseroles.
Monterey jack cheese cubes
Turn the block of cheese on its side and make a series of slices. Lay the cheese slices on top of each other and make a series of lengthwise slices, (½ inch slices for smaller cubes, 1 inch slices for larger cubes. Make a series of ½ inch or 1 inch crosswise cuts through the cheese and it will fall away into cubes).
Monterey jack cheese strips
Cut the cheese block into thin or thick strips as per recipe requirement.
Shredded monterey jack cheese
Pass the cheese through a shredder and separate the thin slices into shreds with fingers. Alternatively, you may buy packaged shredded cheese.
Sliced monterey jack cheese
You may place the cheese in a slicer or slice the cheese into thick or thin slices with a sharp knife, as per the recipe requirement.
How to select
• When seeking out Monterey Jack cheese, look for a smooth, evenly coloured specimen without signs of cracking or discoloration.
• The young cheese is somewhat perishable, so it should be used quickly.
• Dry Jack is more shelf stable, when it can be obtained, and the unique cheese is well worth experiencing, should an opportunity present itself.
• Check the best before date before buying.
• Monterey Jack has a high moisture content, melts easily, and has a bland, buttery flavour.
• With its mild-to-mellow flavour, it is perfect for snacking, slicing, or melting on Mexican dishes
• Eaten fresh, aged Monterey Jack can be used as a substitute for Parmesan on pasta.
• It is a popular cheese for snacking on its own or with crackers. It is especially flavourful in melted dishes such as soup and sauce recipes.
• A few dishes which may use Jack cheese are mashed potatoes, shepherd's pie, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, etc.
• This cheese is delicious when toasted on wheat breads with cucumber and tomato slices.
• Monterey cheese can be added to omelettes, pizza, soufflés, au gratins, fondues, etc.
How to store
• All cheeses, regardless of variety, should be well wrapped and kept in the warmest section of the refrigerator. (The refrigerator door is often one of the warmest spots).
• As storage life is related to the moisture content of the cheese, the softer the cheese, the shorter amount of time it will keep fresh.
• In general, semi-firm cheeses like Monterey Jack will keep for two weeks.
• Regardless of the type of milk used to create it, this cheese is a concentrated source of the nutrients naturally found in milk, including calcium. The one nutritional drawback of reduced-fat cheeses is that they are usually higher in sodium than full-fat natural cheeses.
• Monterey Jack also contains a large amount of other essential nutrients such as phosphorous, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.
• It is a dense source of high quality protein.