Cotija is a Mexican cheese named after the town of Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It is a dry, hard, crumbly Mexican cheese usually made from cow’s milk. A young Cotija is white, salty and fresh similar to feta, but an aged Cotija becomes hard and crumbly similar to a Parmesan. It’s often used through salads and casseroles or crumbled on tacos, empanadas and many other Mexican dishes. Traditionally, Cotija cheese was made with raw milk however commercially (and in this homemade cotija recipe) a starter culture is added to create a similar result.

You can make cotija cheese using our Mediterranean Cheese Making Kit.

MAKES APPROXIMATELY 400G

Homemade Cotija Recipe

Ingredients

    FOR THE CHEESE
  • 2L full cream unhomogenised milk.
  • 10 drops (or 0.6ml) Calcium Chloride.
  • 3-4 grains of Mesophillic Starter Culture.
  • ⅛ Tablet Rennet or 1ml Liquid Rennet (diluted in 30ml cool, non-chlorinated water).
  • 1/8 cup salt.
  • FOR THE BRINE SOLUTION
  • 500ml boiled water.
  • 1/8 cup salt.
  • 1/4 tsp. Citric Acid.
  • 12 drops Calcium Chloride.

Instructions

    CULTURING
  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and stir in the calcium chloride.
  2. Warm the milk to 38 °C (whilst constantly stirring to prevent scalding).
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Thermophilic Starter Culture. Allow the culture to rehydrate in the milk for 2 minutes - before stirring it through for 30 seconds.
  4. Cover the saucepan and let it sit undisturbed in a warm spot (e.g. in an oven on ‘warm’ setting, or kitchen sink with warm water) for 20 minutes to ripen.
  5. SALTING
  6. Add 1/8 cup cheese salt (un-iodised) to the milk and stir it through thoroughly.
  7. RENNETING
  8. Measure out 30ml of cool, non-chlorinated water and stir the rennet into the water until it has completely dissolved.
  9. Stir the diluted rennet solution into the milk. Count to 30, then stop stirring immediately.
  10. Again, cover the saucepan and let it sit undisturbed in a warm spot (e.g. in an oven on ‘warm’ setting, or kitchen sink with warm water) for a further 60 minutes or until a clean break (clean knife incision) is present.
  11. CUTTING THE CURD
  12. Once a knife can be inserted cleanly into the set curd (clean break), cut the curd into 2.5cm cubes. If the curd is still soft (no clean break), allow it to set for a further 10 minutes.
  13. Allow the cut curds to rest for 10 minutes.
  14. PRESSING THE CURD
  15. Using the slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds into the Cheese Cloth-lined colander to drain. Allow the curd to drain for 10 minutes before scooping into a cheese cloth-lined small cheese press or something like the Halloumi Mould and Press Plate.
  16. Cover the curds completely with the Cheese Cloth and press for 30 minutes.
  17. Turn the cheese over and continue pressing for 12-16 hours at room temperature.
  18. Prepare the brine solution and allow to cool.
  19. BRINING THE CHEESE
  20. Remove the cheese from the press and place in the brine for 30 hours. If the cheese gets slimy in the brine, check out our troubleshooting section for tips or get in touch here.
  21. Remove the cheese from the brine and place in a container with draining rack, similar to this one, to allow the air to circulate. Place container in the fridge for two weeks to mature.
  22. Flip the cheese every two days and dry rub with salt if any mould appears.
  23. After two weeks the cheese will be ready to eat.
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