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Cotija comes in two primary versions. El queso Cotija de Montaña or "grain cheese" is dry and firm, with little taste beyond salt (the cheese is usually several times saltier than typical cheese, traditionally for preservative reasons). "Tajo" cheese is a moister, fattier, and less salty version that holds its shape when cut, with a flavor similar to Italian Parmesan and Greek feta.
El queso Cotija de Montaña is a seasonal cheese and is of limited production. Cotija cheese is produced only during the months of July through October because the cows are fed only on the rich grass that grows naturally on the mountains during the rainy season, giving the cheese its unique color and flavor. Queso Cotija is an artisan cheese made by hand, thus every cheese has something unique. This cheese usually comes in 17 kilogram cylinders with a creamy color crust. It is a queso de montaña (cheese of the mountains) because the cheese makers live in the mountains as high as 1700 meters (5,500 ft).
The production method involves milling the curds into small pieces before pressing and aging. When cooked, it slightly softens, but does not otherwise change its shape or consistency. In the mouth, the cheese breaks up again to a sand- or grain-like consistency, adding to the texture of dishes.
Cotija can be purchased in small rounds or large blocks, and it is often used crumbled or grated as a topping for soups, salads, beans, tostadas, or tacos. Like Parmesan, it is often sold already grated.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Janet Fletcher (2006-03-16). "Cotija puts the accent on Mexican foods". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2006/03/16/WIG1PHO52R1.DTL. Retrieved 2007-10-15.