How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last

How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last?

The popularity of Cotija cheese is on the rise, but there isn’t as much information about its shelf life as there is on other cheeses. Certainly, you could assume that it works pretty much like any other cheese. However, that would be incorrect. Cotija is unique and different from most cheeses. Therefore, its shelf life and storage methods are also different.

It is recommended that you use Cotija cheese within six months from the date of purchase in the refrigerator, but some claim it can last up to 12 months in the freezer. Depending on how you store Cotija, it will last much longer.

We’ll investigate storage methods, what causes cheese to go bad, and even how to tell if it’s gone bad in today’s lesson. Keep reading to learn how to protect your delicious cotija cheese!

What Is Cotija Cheese?

Honestly, we did not know much about this cheese prior to today. We had heard of it, but didn’t really know what it was, what it tasted like, etc.

Our research quickly revealed that this is an ingredient we have had multiple times at authentic Mexican restaurants.

You won’t need this introduction if you grew up eating Mexican or Central American cuisine!

Cotija cheese is a type of aged cheese made with cow’s milk from Mexico and other nearby countries in Central America. It is made in a few different ways which naturally produces a few different flavors.

This cheese, regardless of its age, is characterized by its saltiness. It often has a crumbly, almost powdery texture.

Cotija is most common in its young (or fresh) form, which has a light white color and a relatively firm, yet crumbly texture. The cheese tastes salty, similar to feta.

After that, you get an aged version of cotija, which is harder and more like Parmesan. It is still fairly crumbly, but not as soft or creamy as its un-aged counterpart.

The incredibly salty taste and texture of Cotija can be incorporated into virtually any recipe of your choice.

As you heat it, the cheese will soften, but it will not melt into sauces or create a crispy cheesy grilled top.

Cotija Shelf-Life

All ingredients are affected by three factors.

There are several factors that make bacteria grow and multiply rapidly, including favorable temperatures (temperature danger zone), foods (nutrients), and moisture.

You can spoil your cheese even if you do just one of these things.

Compared to other types of cheese, this one has a longer shelf life due to its incredibly salty flavor.

The salt in the cheese prevents bacteria from growing quickly.

However, the cheese is still made from cow’s milk, which is highly perishable. Milk naturally contains sugars and water, which bacteria thrive on.

Additionally, fresh and aged cotija have different shelf-lifes, depending on the amount of moisture they contain.

The final shelf life of your cheese will be determined, most importantly, by how you store it.

You can completely spoil your cheese in a day if you allow it to rest at room temperature (where bacteria thrives in the temperature danger zone).

How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last?

Fresh cotija cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks if it is stored properly.

There are several months of shelf life for aged cotija (since it is lower in moisture content)!

Again, the exact timeframe depends entirely on how well the cheese is stored.

We will discuss the pros and cons of freezing these cheeses in a bit more detail later. Both of these cheeses will keep for six months if you freeze them.

How To Properly Store Cotija Cheese

The way you store Cotija will also differ quite a bit from the way you store most cheeses.

For storing fresh and aged Cotija, wrap it in clean wax paper or parchment paper, but wax paper is a little less breathable than parchment.

Store the cheese in an airtight container or resealable bag after each use. The container or bag will help prevent the cheese from absorbing odors from your refrigerator, such as garlic and onions.

Make sure your fridge doesn’t have any fluctuating temperatures, as that can cause the cheese to go off quickly.

Keep the cheese away from raw meat and the door.

Can You Freeze Cotija Cheese?

Though many people say cotija cheese can last up to 12 months, we recommend keeping it for no longer than 6 months.

In this case, the texture will change completely, and not in a good way!

A cheese’s water molecules become ice crystals when it freezes. These crystals are sharp and pierce the cheese’s bonds.

There are two reasons why the ice crystals form in the cheese. The first is that they break the bonds that create its unique structure, and the second is that the flavor of the cheese is leached out when it is thawed.

As a result, the cheese becomes dry and crumbly and lacks flavor.

In our opinion, you should avoid freezing this cheese. If you must, try to use it within the first month. Never leave it for more than 6 months.

How To Freeze Cotija Cheese

Keeping cotija cheese in the freezer requires proper wrapping.

Wrap it first in wax paper, then in plastic wrap, and finally in aluminum foil. The foil will prevent the cheese from burning in the freezer.

The wrapped cheese should be placed in a container that is airtight to prevent it from absorbing odors.

You can store the cotija cheese for a maximum of 6 months once it has been tightly wrapped.

How To Thaw Cotija Cheese

This is the best method to thaw cotija if you had to freeze it.

Place the cheese on a plate, place it in the fridge overnight, and then take it out of the freezer. Leave it in the package.

In this way, the ice crystals will gradually melt, which will ensure the best taste and structure for the drink.

How To Tell If Cotija Cheese Has Gone Bad

Fortunately, because cheese is made from cow’s milk (dairy), it is very easy to tell when it has spoiled.

The first sign of spoilage in dairy is a sour smell and taste, though it doesn’t always begin as a rancid rotten smell.

Cotija is a shade of white. It may be a slightly “dirty” white, but it should still be uniform in color (at least in theory).

As a result, if you notice any changes in color or spots forming, look for other signs of spoilage immediately.

Mold growth is another obvious sign. If you see any mold growth, you should cut off that part of the cheese and use the rest immediately.

All the mold that grows on cotija after it is made is bad. Don’t risk the consequences of eating it. This isn’t blue cheese.

Related Questions

Why Does My Cotija Cheese Stink?

As with most yeast moldy things, this cheese (and many others as well) are made with yeast, bacteria, and fungi. That is what gives the bland product a more flavorful finish. You shouldn’t worry too much about a slightly stinky cheese, but if it smells sour and rancid, you should check for signs of spoilage.

Can Grated Cotija Be Frozen?

In the same way that whole blocks of Cotija can be frozen, grated cheese can also be frozen. You can follow the same steps. It should also last a long time. If you freeze grated Cotija, you have already created a crumbled texture, as opposed to freezing an entire block.

Can Cotija Cheese Be Left At Room Temperature?

You can leave most perishable foods at room temperature for two hours. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to get food poisoning from harmful bacteria multiplying too much. Cotija cheese should be refrigerated as soon as possible.

Is Cotija Cheese Pasteurized?

Unfortunately, it depends on where you buy it and who you buy it from. In addition to pasteurized cotija cheeses, there are also some products that are not pasteurized. So, be sure to double check.

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