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Queso blanco (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkeso ˈβlaŋko]), with similar cheeses including queso fresco (pronounced [ˈkeso ˈfɾesko]), is a creamy, soft, and mild unaged white cheese, commonly used in the Iberian Peninsula, several Latin American countries including Mexico, and many parts of the United States. The name queso blanco is Spanish for "white cheese", but similar cheeses are used and known throughout the world. In Brazil they are respectively known as queijo branco (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈkejʒu ˈbɾɐ̃ku]) and queijo fresco in Portugal ([ˈkeijʒu ˈfɾeʃku]).
Queso blanco is considered one of the easier cheeses to make, as it requires no careful handling and does not call for rennet or a bacterial culture. It is usually made by heating whole fresh milk to near-boiling, adding an acidifying agent such as vinegar, stirring until curds form, then draining the curds in cheesecloth for three to five hours. Such cheeses are also known as "bag cheeses", as the curds are normally hung in a bag of cheesecloth to drain. Many Mexican home cooks make their own instead of purchasing it; when made for the evening meal, it is often prepared in early afternoon and left to drain until evening. As it is highly perishable, it must be refrigerated or used immediately once the whey has drained out.
Queso blanco is traditionally made from cow's milk, whereas queso fresco may be made from a combination of cow's and goat's milk. Some versions of these cheeses, such as Oaxaca cheese, melt well when heated, but most only soften.
Queso blanco and queso fresco may be eaten straight or mixed in with dishes. They make a creamy addition to recipes. They are often used as a topping for spicy Mexican dishes such as enchiladas and empanadas, or crumbled over soups or salads. Meltable versions are used to make quesadillas. It is used to make cheesecake in some parts of the world, such as the United States. In Peruvian cuisine, several recipes mix queso fresco and spices to make a spicy cold sauce eaten over peeled boiled potatoes, such as papa a la Huancaína or ocopa.
- Ciletti, Barbara (1999). Making Great Cheese: 30 Simple Recipes from Cheddar to Chevre. Asheville, NC: Lark Books. pp. 52–53.
- "Guide to Mexican Cheeses". Gourmet Sleuth. Retrieved 2007-10-15.