Monterey Jack

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Monterey Jack
Vella Cheese Young Jack.jpg
Country of origin United States
Region California
Town Monterey
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Monterey Jack, sometimes shortened to Jack, is an American semi-hard cheese, customarily white,[1] made using cow's milk. It is commonly sold by itself or mixed with Colby cheese to make a marbled cheese known as Colby-Jack (or Co-Jack).[2] Cheddar-Jack (with a yellow cheddar) and Pepper Jack (with chili peppers) varieties are also available. An aged variety is known as Dry Jack.


In its earliest form, Monterey Jack was made by the Franciscan friars of Monterey, Alta California, during the 18th century.[3] California businessman David Jack sold the cheese commercially. He produced a mild white cheese that came to be known eponymously as "Jack's Cheese", and eventually "Monterey Jack".[4] Other ranchers in the area also produced the cheese. Andrew Molera built up a successful dairy operation on the family ranch in Big Sur. His Monterey Jack cheese was especially well-liked.[5]

A common misspelling is Monterrey Jack, presumably in confusion with the Mexican city of Monterrey.


Most of the softer types found in American supermarkets are aged for only one month. An aged variety known as Dry Jack is aged for up to six months.[6]


A wedge of Dry Jack cheese, shown with plums, pomegranate and roasted almonds

Dry Jack[edit]

An aged version of this cheese known as Dry Monterey Jack, or Dry Jack, can be grated and used much like Parmesan cheese.[7] Dry Jack was originally created by accident in 1915 when a San Francisco cheese wholesaler stored and forgot a number of wheels of fresh Jack cheese.[8] When shipments of hard cheese from Europe were subsequently interrupted as World War I intensified, he rediscovered the stored Jack, which had become a well-aged hard cheese his customers found to be a good substitute for classic, aged hard cheeses, such as Parmesan.[8]

Pepper Jack[edit]

Pepper Jack cheese is a derivative of Monterey Jack that is flavored with spicy chili peppers, as well as various peppers and herbs.[9] Pepper Jack is often used as an alternative to regular Jack cheese in dishes such as quesadillas, but can be eaten with bread or crackers as a snack or as part of an hors d'oeuvre. There are some other versions that are flavored with garlic or pesto, although they are less common than Pepper Jack.[citation needed]


Because of its low content of tyramine, an organic compound thought to be associated with headaches,[10] it is frequently recommended as one of the few cheeses that is safe to eat for migraine sufferers.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Robert Carlton. "The Complete Book of Cheese, Chapter 4: "American Cheddars". Gramercy Publishing Company: New York. Monterey Jack is a stirred curd Cheddar without any annatto coloring. It is sweeter than most and milder when young
  2. ^ Wisconsin Cheese: Colby-Monterey Jack. Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Feldman, David (2006). Why do Pirates Love Parrots? An Imponderables Books. New York: Collins. pp. 53–55. ISBN 0-06-088842-3.
  5. ^ McKinney, John (1 July 1990). "History Meets Nature Along This Big Sur Walk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  6. ^ Fabricant, Florence (May 10, 2000). "The Riches of Spain: Its Cheese; A New Appetite In America". 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.
  7. ^ "Dry Jack". Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  8. ^ a b Sarah Koops Vanderveen, Special to The Chronicle (1995-09-27). "Dry Monterey Jack Cheese: What's Old Is New Again - SFGate". Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  9. ^ "Pepper Jack". Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Headaches from Food: The Connection". 2005-03-29. Retrieved 2015-02-26.

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