How To Make Monterey Jack Cheese


So named because it originated in Monterey, California, this versatile cheese can be made from whole, partly skimmed or skimmed cow's milk. It's also called California Jack or simply Jack cheese. 

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    • 3 gallons pasteurized whole milk
    • 1 pint heavy cream (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon mesophilic-a culture
    • 1 teaspoon + 3 tablespoons flaked salt
    • mesophilic-a 8 dose jar $4.95
    • calcium chloride 1 oz. $1.95
    • rennet tablets 10 pk. $5.95
    • 11/2 teaspoons of 30% calcium chloride in 2 tablespoons distilled wate1/2 rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water


Combine milk, optional cream and diluted calcium chloride in a 16 quart stock pot or a double boiler and heat to 88°F. Add ¼ teaspoon of Mesophilic-A culture. Stir in thoroughly. Allow the milk to ripen for 45 minutes. While the milk ripens dissolve ½ rennet tablet in ¼ cup of distilled water. Increase the temperature of the milk to 90°F. Stir 1 teaspoon flaked salt into the dissolved rennet solution. Stir this solution gently into the 90°F milk. Allow the milk to set, covered, at 90°F for 60 minutes or until the milk has set into a firm curd with a clean break.

Using a long bladed stainless steel knife cut the curd into ½ inch cubes. Let the curds set for 10 minutes.
Place the cheese pot into a second pot of 100°F water or in a sink filled with 100°F water. Indirectly heat the curds to 100°F by increasing the temperature no faster than 2°F every five minutes. It should take 30 minutes to reach 100°F. Stir the curds gently but frequently during this cooking period to keep the curd pieces from matting together.

Maintain the curds at 100°F for an additional 30 minutes stirring every several minutes to keep the curds from matting. Allow the curds to settle for five minutes.

Pour off the whey down to the level of the curd. Maintain a temperature of 100°F by placing the pot of curd into a water bath which is at 100°F. Allow the curds to set for 30 minutes stirring every five minutes to prevent matting.
Place a large colander in a sink. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and allow them to drain. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cheese salt over the curd and gently mix it in using your hands. If you want to experiment with adding peppers now is when you would mix them in. Try using pickled jalapenos, finely minced.

Place the curds into the plastic cheese mold which is lined with cheesecloth. Pull up on the sides of the cloth to avoid any bunching.

After pouring all the curds into the mold, lay the excess length of cheesecloth evenly over the top of the curds. Place the follower (smooth side down) on top of the curd and set a four pound weight (half gallon of water) on top of the follower. Press the cheese for 15 minutes.

Remove the cheese from the press and take it out of the cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth back in the mold and return the cheese to the mold upside down. Fold the excess cheesecloth over the cheese and again put the follower on top of the cheese. Now press the cheese with 8 - 10 pounds pressure for 12 hours (1 gallon of water or a 10 pound weight plate).

Remove the cheese from the press as before and unwrap the cloth. Mix 1 tablespoon of salt with ½ cup of water. Using a corner of the cheese cloth, lightly apply a saltwater wash to the cheese. Place the cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1-3 days turning over twice each day. When it starts to form a yellowish rind and is dry to the touch it is ready to wax for storage.

Wax the cheese and store for aging at 40 to 60°F (55 F ideally) for 1-4 months. Turn the cheese over daily for the first month and several times a week thereafter.

Additional Notes

flaked salt 2 lb. jar $2.45
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