Cotija is a complex, dry unripened cheese.
It is typically made from pasteurized cow’s milk with traditional rennet from an animal stomach.
Like Parmesan, Cotija is often grated as a topping or condiment for salads and other foods that it complements well.
Its flavor is salty and pungent, similar to Parmesan, but with a slightly sharper taste.
Cotija Cheese can be purchased in many grocery stores and is sometimes available in Hispanic or international specialty markets.
It’s important to note that although we commonly refer to Cotija Cheese as a crumbly cheese, it’s semi-hard.
It’s dry and crumbles easily when grated. In Mexican cuisine, Cotija is often eaten with sour cream.
It’s also eaten in a popular dish called “Carne enchilada,” which includes bits of tender strips of beef or pork that have been marinated in a sauce with lemon juice and tomatoes, then wrapped in corn tortillas.
So can you freeze Cotija Cheese? The answer is yes, you indeed can.
It’s recommended that you freeze it in a moisture-proof container with all of the air squeezed out.
This ensures that it keeps its flavor and doesn’t get freezer burn or dried out when frozen.
Also, do not refreeze Cotija Cheese after thawing, even if it is only slightly thawed.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to freeze Cotija Cheese and direct you to a recipe for making it at home.
Does Freezing Affect Cotija Cheese?
Cotija Cheese generally doesn’t have a long shelf life and should be used within about two weeks of purchase.
However, you can freeze it for up to 6 months, which makes it easy to stock up on in bulk or buy in larger quantities if you know you’ll use it sooner rather than later.
Like many hard cheeses, freezing does affect the texture of Cotija.
The drying effect is intensified during freezing, leaving the cheese drier and more crumbly than first frozen.
As with many other types of cheese, it’s better to thaw a frozen block in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature or in water.
Another consideration for Cotija Cheese is that it’s very sharp, so eating a lot of it at once can be overwhelming if you’re not used to the kick.
If you’re going to freeze Cotija Cheese, it’s best to do so in small portions or dime-sized slices and thaw as needed.
How to Freeze Cotija Cheese?
We often ask this question, so it’s worth noting that you have two different options for how to freeze Cotija Cheese.
One of the best ways to freeze your cheese is to shred it into pieces.
You’ll want to do this before you put the cheese in the freezer.
Next, transfer it to an airtight container, remove all of the air from the container and freeze for up to 6 months.
If you would like to skip this step and freeze the whole block of cheese, you should be aware that it will lose moisture during freezing and won’t keep as long.
It will also need to be thawed before you can shred it, so if you’re going to use a whole block of Cotija Cheese, keep this in mind and freeze the cheese shortly before you plan on using it.
Here’s how to freeze Cotija Cheese:
- Wrap the cheese in a double layer of plastic wrap or wax paper, and place it in a resealable bag.
- Squeeze all of the air out of the bag. Make sure you get out as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it shut.
- You can use the vacuum sealer to remove extra air from the bag if you have one.
- Place in the freezer until ready to use.
- Write the date on the bag so that you know when it was frozen.
Follow these steps whether you’re freezing Cotija Cheese blocks or shreds.
It is easy to do, and now that you know how to freeze Cotija Cheese, you can stock up at a great price or have more around if you need it for a recipe.
How to Thaw Frozen Cotija Cheese?
Cotija Cheese can be thawed in two ways.
You should never thaw Cotija Cheese at room temperature because it will begin to lose moisture and dry out quickly.
The best way to thaw it is slowly, in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours if you’re pressed for time.
You can also submerge the block or container of cheese in warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes.
You can then put it back into the fridge and let it sit until completely thawed, or use as directed in your recipe.
Once Cotija Cheese is thawed, it’s a good idea to cook it with something as soon as possible.
It will begin to dry out quickly if not used immediately.
How to Use Thawed Cotija Cheese?
Cotija Cheese is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways.
Here are some ideas for how to use thawed Cotija Cheese:
- Add to Vegetable Omelets.
Cotija Cheese has a salty, nutty flavor and crumbly texture, making it an ideal addition to vegetable omelets.
Thaw it and mix it into the omelet along with your favorite vegetables.
This combination is particularly good with tomatoes, corn, onions, and bell peppers.
- Top Hot or Cold Soups.
Thawed Cotija Cheese can add a salty kick to a bowl of chilled gazpacho or tomato soup.
Sprinkle it over the top of your soup or stir it in before you serve.
- Mix into Guacamole.
You can also use Cotija Cheese to add more flavor to your favorite guacamole recipe, either by adding the cheese during the preparation process or mixing it in a little bit after.
It has a nice salty kick that complements many ingredients that typically go into guacamole, such as tomatoes and onions.
- Cheese Platter with Other Meats.
Cotija Cheese is often served alongside other types of cheese on a cheese board or at the center of a Mexican-themed meal.
It has a salty flavor with many different meats like chorizo, salami, and other cured meats.
You can also mix it into a dish topping or crumble it into the mixture to add more flavor and texture.
How to Tell if Frozen Cotija Cheese is Bad?
The best way to know if your Cotija Cheese has gone bad is to pay attention to its odor, texture, and color.
If the cheese develops a strange odor or becomes moldy, it’s probably not safe for consumption anymore.
If your cheese develops an off-taste, discoloration, or changes texture, you should discard it.
In general, you can keep Cotija Cheese in the freezer safely for 6 to 8 months as long as you keep it in a tightly sealed container.
In conclusion, Cotija Cheese is a hard Mexican cheese that adds saltiness and nutty flavor to dishes.
You can freeze Cotija Cheese by wrapping it in plastic wrap or wax paper, placing it in a resealable bag, and squeezing the air out.
Once thawed, you can cook with it immediately or sprinkle it on dishes for added flavor and texture.
You can notice if it has gone bad by paying attention to its texture, color, and odor.
So if you want to use it in a few months, remember always to write the date on your container.