Minas cheese

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Minas Cheese
Queijo Minas Frescal.JPG
Country of originBrazil
RegionMinas Gerais
Source of milkCow
Fat contentDepends on variety
Aging timeDepends on variety
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Minas cheese (queijo minas or Portuguese: queijo-de-minas, pronounced [ˈkejʒu (dʒi) ˈmĩnɐs], literally "cheese from Minas") is a type of cheese that has been traditionally produced in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

It comes in three varieties, named queijos-de-minas frescal (fresh), meia-cura (half-aged) and curado (aged). A fourth variety, branded queijo padrão ("standard" cheese) has been developed more recently and can be found in nearly all supermarkets and grocery stores in Brazil. It is similar to frescal, but not as immensely juicy, soft and mild, and also generally less salty.

Minas cheese is made from cow's milk according to traditional recipes. It used to be matured naturally in open air or, much less often, over a cooker to dry with the heat.

Frescal cheese (as the name implies) is served quite fresh, about 4–10 days after preparation, still white and tender. Good frescal must be juicy, soft, and slightly granulated (instead of rubbery), with a mild taste. The saltiness of its taste might vary widely across producer.

It is not good for cooking, except with beef or pork (the juice helps change its taste), or, as an ingredient to a wider recipe, grilled with sauces such as soy sauce until rubbery. It can be used to make sandwiches, pastries, and crêpes, but it gets slightly rubbery instead of stringy with heat. It pairs well with turkey breast and other low fat cold cuts, cooked onions, tomato, as well as salad rockets, cooked spinach and other strong-tasting vegetables.

Curado cheese is ready for consumption when the juice has evaporated and the cheese has solidified and acquired a yellowish tint. Good curado cheese must have a white core, punctured with tiny bubbles of air, slightly more granulated than frescal and with a stronger taste, tending to bitter. It is excellent for cooking, being used for a huge variety of dishes of all types, including pastel de queijo and the famous pão de queijo (cheese bun).

Frescal cheese is often served with goiabada, a sweet product made out of guavas similar to quince cheese. When these two flavors are combined it is known as romeu-e-julieta (Romeo & Juliet), and this combination can be eaten as it is or used in a wide variety of dishes like cake, pie or ice cream. Frescal cheese also pairs well with other forms of fruit preserve or Doce de Leite.

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