Jump to content

Monterey Jack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Monterey Jack
Country of originUnited States
Source of milkCows
TextureSemihard, creamy
Aging time1-6 months
Related media on Commons

Monterey Jack, sometimes shortened to Jack, is a Californian white, semi-hard cheese made using cow's milk, with a mild flavor and slight sweetness. It has been called "an American original" and "as a vestige of Spanish rule in the early nineteenth century, derives from a Franciscan monastic style of farmer's cheese."[1][2]

In addition to being eaten by itself, it is frequently marbled with Colby to produce Colby-Jack,[3] or with yellow cheddar to produce cheddar-Jack. Pepper Jack is a version flavored with chili peppers and herbs. Dry Jack is a harder cheese with a longer aging time.


A wedge of dry aged Monterey Jack, known as Dry Jack

In its earliest form, Monterey Jack was made by 18th-century Franciscan friars of Monterey, Alta California.[4] California land speculator and businessman David Jacks sold the cheese commercially.[5] He produced a mild white cheese that came to be known eponymously as "Jacks' Cheese" and eventually "Monterey Jack".[6] Other ranchers in the area likewise produced the cheese, among them Andrew Molera, who built a successful dairy operation in Big Sur and whose Monterey Jack was especially well regarded.[7]


Although most of the softer varieties found in American supermarkets are aged for only one month, "dry Jack" is a harder variety aged for up to six months.[8]


The cheese is commonly used as an interior melting cheese for quesadillas, California-style burritos, and also some Mexican-style burritos ("bean and cheese"). It can also be used on cheeseburgers or for grilled cheese sandwiches. It has a mild flavor and good melting quality for some pasta dishes.


Dry Jack[edit]

Dry Jack was created by accident in 1915, when a San Francisco wholesaler forgot about a number of wheels of fresh Jack he had stored. As World War I intensified and shipments of hard cheese from Europe were interrupted, he rediscovered the wheels, which had aged into a product his customers found to be a good substitute for classic hard cheeses like Parmesan.[9][10]

Pepper Jack[edit]

Pepper Jack is a derivative of Monterey Jack flavored with spicy chili peppers, bell peppers, and herbs.[11]

Headache safety[edit]

Because of its low content of tyramine, an organic compound thought to be associated with headaches, Monterey Jack is frequently recommended as one of the few kinds of cheese that is safe to eat for migraine sufferers.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Robert Carlton (1955). "4: American Cheddars". The Complete Book of Cheese. New York: Gramercy Publishing Company. Monterey Jack is a stirred curd Cheddar without any annatto coloring. It is sweeter than most and milder when young.
  2. ^ Jones, Bradley J. (2016). "California". In Donnelly, Catherine (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Cheese. Oxford University Press. p. 107. ISBN 9780199330911. OCLC 968303209.
  3. ^ Wisconsin Cheese: Colby-Monterey Jack Archived 2018-05-26 at the Wayback Machine. Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
  4. ^ FWx (ed.). "The Tragic Way Monterey Jack Cheese Got Its Name". Food & Wine. In 1769, Spanish Franciscan Father Junipero Serra ... founded the first California Catholic mission in present-day San Diego. A year later, the second mission was founded at Monterey Bay
  5. ^ Bakken, Gordon Morris; Kindell, Alexandra (2006-02-24). Encyclopedia of Immigration and Migration in the American West. SAGE. ISBN 978-1-4129-0550-3.
  6. ^ Feldman, David (2006). Why do Pirates Love Parrots? An Imponderables Books. New York: Collins. pp. 53–55. ISBN 0-06-088842-3.
  7. ^ McKinney, John (1 July 1990). "History Meets Nature Along This Big Sur Walk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  8. ^ Fabricant, Florence (May 10, 2000). "The Riches of Spain: Its Cheese; A New Appetite In America". The New York Times. Mahon, a cow's milk cheese from the island of Menorca, with an orange rind, has the kind of nuttiness with buttery overtones you might associate with aged Monterey Jack and is good used just the same way.
  9. ^ Vanderveen, Sarah Koops (July 9, 1995). "Special to the Chronicle: Dry Monterey Jack Cheese: What's Old Is New Again". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  10. ^ "Dry Jack". World News. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  11. ^ "Pepper Jack". cheese.com. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Headaches from Food: The Connection". Medicinenet.com. 2005-03-29. Retrieved 2015-02-26.

External links[edit]