What is Oaxaca Cheese?

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

If you just stumbled onto this article searching for some food articles you may be asking yourself what the heck Oaxaca cheese is. If you know what Oaxaca cheese is and are asking yourself the question “where do I find Oaxaca cheese?”  Fear not because I will share with you the answers. For now, let’s start with the basics…

What Is Oaxaca Cheese

Cheese lovers will rejoice over the mild and buttery flavor of Oaxaca cheese.  Although you will probably never see it being paired with wine, it is considered an artisanal cheese.  It gets its name from the region of Mexico where it originated.

It does not hit you as strongly as say a brie or a sharp cheddar and it is more akin to Mozzarella which makes it great for use in baked goods, for quesadillas and empanadas.  It has a stringy texture which makes it a perfect topping for the traditional Oaxacan dish known as Tlayuda.

The History of Oaxaca Cheese

The reason Oaxaca cheese has such a mild flavor is because it is a cheese that is made from cow milk.  The form of Oaxaca cheese that is most popular now is credited to Dominican monks who settled in the region of Oaxaca a long time ago.  The monks would typically make cheese from goat’s milk which would lend a stronger and more pungent flavor but when they arrived in Oaxaca and found that there was no goat’s milk readily available, they had to improvise.

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

The monks used cow’s milk and combined it with a method of cheese-making that is very similar to the process used to make Mozzarella from Italy.  Thus, Oaxaca cheese was born and implemented in many traditional Oaxacan dishes.  Since then it has become one of the most popular cheeses in Latin countries and is becoming increasingly popular with Anglos as well.

The Process

Oaxaca cheese is a curd cheese and it is kneaded and then stretched to give it its stringy consistency.  After it is stretched, it is usually wound up in a ball shape for packaging.  There is also a form of Oaxaca cheese called asadero and this incarnation of the dairy product comes in the form of a brick.

Asadero cheese is usually intended for slicing but it is made with the same ingredients as traditional Oaxaca cheese.  Oaxaca cheese whether in its brick or ball shape however will always be the same color; white.  Not pure white mind you but a very light, off-white.  It will also always be semi-soft.

Where to Get Oaxaca Cheese

Unfortunately you can’t just waltz into the national chain grocery store down the street and expect to find Oaxaca cheese. Unfortunately, the most readily available source of Oaxaca cheese is online.  There are very reputable sites where you can order authentic Oaxaca cheese such as MexGrocer.com and FoodServiceDirect.com.

For the freshest Oaxaca cheese you are going to have to do some digging.  Hopefully you live in a state with a fairly large Latin community because if you do, you can bet there will be a local Mercado that sells fresh Oaxaca cheese.  If you are south of the border you can also try a lecheria to get your fill of Oaxaca cheese.

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