Cotija cheese is a type of hard, crumbly, and flavorful cheese originating from Mexico.
It has a salty and tangy taste, making it an excellent condiment for various dishes, including salads, soups, and tacos.
However, like other dairy products, Cotija cheese can go bad if not stored or handled correctly.
In this article, we explore the shelf life of Cotija cheese and how to tell if it has gone bad.
Cotija cheese lasts up to six months when stored correctly. It is essential to store it in a cool, dry place and keep it away from direct sunlight. Once opened, it is best to keep the cheese in an airtight container in the fridge and consume it within two weeks.
It is crucial to note that Cotija cheese should not be consumed if it shows signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell, discolored or moldy spots, or a slimy texture.
What is Cotija Cheese?
Cotija cheese is a type of cow’s milk cheese known for its dryness, crumbliness, and salty flavor. It is named after a town called Cotija in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where it was first produced.
The cheese is made by fermenting unpasteurized milk and draining the whey until it reaches a firm, crumbly texture. Cotija cheese comes in two varieties, the original (aged) and the fresco (fresh), but the aged one is more commonly used in most recipes.
Cotija cheese is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and protein, making it a healthy choice in moderation. It is also low in calories, making it an excellent addition to a weight-loss diet without compromising on taste.
How Long Does Cotija Cheese Last?
Like most dairy products, Cotija cheese has a limited shelf life, after which it may go bad. Several factors, including the storage environment and the type of Cotija cheese (aged or fresh) affect its shelf life.
Fresh Cotija Cheese
Fresh Cotija cheese has a shorter shelf life compared to aged Cotija cheese since it has a higher moisture content. When stored correctly, fresh Cotija cheese can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. It is crucial to wrap it in wax paper or plastic wrap before storing it to prevent it from drying out. You can also store it in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags to maintain its texture and flavor.
Aged Cotija Cheese
Aged Cotija cheese has a longer shelf life compared to fresh Cotija cheese. When stored correctly, aged Cotija cheese can last up to six months. It has a low moisture content compared to the fresh one, making it less prone to spoilage. It is advisable to keep it in a cool and dry place with a consistent temperature, away from direct sunlight.
How to Tell if Cotija Cheese Has Gone Bad?
Cotija cheese can go bad when exposed to unfavorable conditions, such as moisture, heat, and bacteria. It is essential to check for signs of spoilage before using the cheese to avoid foodborne illnesses. Here are some indicators that Cotija cheese may have gone bad:
Cotija cheese has a distinctive aroma, but if it smells sour, rancid, or pungent, it may be an indicator of spoilage. You should avoid consuming it if it has a questionable odor.
Discoloration or Mold
If your Cotija cheese has moldy spots or has a different color from the original, it may be an indicator of spoilage. The cheese should have a pale white hue, and any deviation from that may indicate spoilage.
Slimy or Oily Texture
Cotija cheese should have a dry and crumbly texture. If the cheese has a slimy or oily texture, it may indicate spoilage due to high moisture content or bacterial growth. In such a case, discard the cheese to avoid food poisoning.
How to Store Cotija Cheese?
Cotija cheese is a perishable dairy product that requires proper storage to extend its shelf life. Here are some guidelines on how to store Cotija cheese:
Wrap the Cotija cheese in wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Avoid using aluminum foil as it can react with the cheese, resulting in an unpleasant taste and texture.
Store the Cotija cheese in the refrigerator at temperatures between 33°F and 40°F. It is essential to keep the cheese away from the door of the fridge, where temperatures fluctuate. You can also store the cheese in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to prevent it from absorbing other flavors in the refrigerator.
Cotija cheese should not be frozen because it can change the texture, making it crumbly and less flavorful. The texture of the cheese can also change because of the high moisture content, resulting in a slimy and unpleasant texture.
Cotija cheese is a delicious and healthy addition to various dishes, but it has a limited shelf life. Fresh Cotija cheese can last up to two weeks, while aged Cotija cheese can last up to six months when stored correctly. It is essential to check for signs of spoilage before consuming the cheese to avoid food poisoning. Proper storage, such as wrapping, refrigeration, and avoiding freezing, can help extend the shelf life of Cotija cheese. Remember to store the cheese away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat to maintain its texture and flavor.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.