Monterey Jack

Photo of Monterey Jack Cheese
Important Facts
Country of Origin United States
Specific Origin Monterey County, California
Milk Type Pasteurized cow's milk
Milk Treatment Pasteurized
Fat Content Not less than 50% on a dry basis
Moisture Content Not more than 44%
Texture Mild to firm
Flavor Mild to full-flavored
Flavor Notes A cheese with a cream-colored paste that becomes more golden with age, known for its mild to full flavor and adaptability in culinary uses.
Colors Cream to golden
Age Six weeks to ten months
Rennet Type Animal

About Monterey Jack Cheese

Monterey Jack, or simply Jack, is a cheese with roots in Monterey County, California. Its creation goes back to the 1700s when it was introduced by Franciscan monks from Spain. David Jacks, a Scottish immigrant, is credited with commercializing the cheese in the 1850s, leading to its widespread popularity in northern California. Monterey Jack's production now extends beyond California, with Wisconsin being a significant producer. Despite being grouped with Colby for production statistics, it's a substantial part of cheese production in both states.

The cheese-making process for Jack involves washing the curds and dry-salting before pressing, similar to Colby and possibly derived from Cheddar. Monterey Jack must adhere to FDA standards, including being made from pasteurized milk and meeting specific fat and moisture content. Variants of the cheese include the mild, film-wrapped Monterey Jack and the traditional Jack, which is not film-wrapped but instead ripened with oil-rubbed surfaces for rind formation. Dry Jack, aged over ten months, becomes firm enough for grating and is described as having a sharp, rich flavor.

Monterey Jack has earned its place as an "American original," evolving from a monastic style of cheese by Franciscan friars. Today, it's enjoyed in various forms, including marbled with Colby or Cheddar and flavored as Pepper Jack. Dry Jack, a harder cheese aged for longer periods, originated from a storage oversight in 1915 but became a valued hard cheese substitute. Monterey Jack's versatile nature makes it a staple in Mexican and Spanish cuisine, celebrated for its mild flavor and excellent melting qualities.

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