Queso fresco is a Spanish translation to fresh cheese. This cheese has a sweet and slightly sour flavor and can be compared to Greek feta. Queso fresco is slightly milky, with no creamy richness and is made from curdling milk with vinegar or lemon. But how is queso fresco melted?
Well, the melting process of queso fresco is not the same one used in melting cheddar or mozzarella cheese as it easily gets lumpy. Queso fresco is usually crumbled and used as toppings in dishes. Although queso fresco is soft, it tends to soften more when exposed to heat.
So in this post, we will highlight how to melt queso fresco and so much more. So keep reading to get enlightened!
What is queso fresco
Queso fresco is a type of cheese used in Mexican dishes. This cheese is made from curdlingcow or goat milk or even combining the two. The cheese is then acidified with lemon juice, rennet and vinegar and left to curdle.
The purpose of adding acids in the milk is to curdle it and give it the tangy flavor. After curdling, the cheese is strained using a cheese cloththen sold or left to age for some days. After that, the cheese is pressed to be firm before being packed.
Queso fresco crumbles easily and has a light milky flavor, similar to cottage cheese. Its versatility makes it stand out, among so many. From sprinkling on meat and rice dishes to adding in grilled vegetables as large chunks and even in salads, this cheese is truly amazing!
Its flavor, a rich slightly sour and salty taste, perfectly offsets the heat brought about by chili and other spices. You can also add the queso fresco cheese in egg dishes and summer soups. I especially love it served as an appetizer with watermelon and mint. You can find pasteurized versions of queso fresco cheese in grocery stores in the United States.
Does queso fresco melt?
Does queso fresco melt is a question asked by many. Whereas the cheese is not designed to melt, there are ways you can incorporate to melt it and use as a dip. Usually, the cheese softens when exposed to heat for long periods. However, one should be keen so the cheese doesn’t burn.
Melting queso fresco gets difficult if you are melting the whole block. So, since it’s hard for the whole block of cheese to melt, the best way to ensure it melts out is by first grating or shredding it then heating it under low heat. For proper melting, whisk the cheese so as to make a smooth chunk free dip.
Queso fresco in its soft state can be added as a filling in burritos, quesadillas and stuffed chiles.
Can you melt queso fresco? If so, how?
As mentioned earlier, queso fresco can be hard to melt but melts better when grated or shredded. It also melts well when heated alongside evaporated milk. The evaporated milk is heated under low heat till it starts to simmer then shredded queso fresco added into the milk.
Note that, your queso fresco cheese might remain a little grainy after melting. So here is how you can melt the cheese:
i. Crumble the cheese or shred it.
ii. Add some evaporated milk into a pan and heat on low setting till it boils. Boil low to prevent burning of the milk.
iii. Add the crumbled cheese into the evaporated milk in small amounts.
iv. Whisk the mixture as it boils until you achieve a runny blend. The cheese should have melted in 20 minutes or so.
v. If the cheese is too grainy, keep whisking till it gets smooth.
Why doesn’t queso fresco melt
Contrary to the belief that queso fresco doesn’t melt, this cheese really does melt, only that it takes quite a while. Achieving a smooth consistency is hard as the cheese forms lumps that can be reduced to grains after thorough whisking. You probably are wondering why it gets lumpy even after heating for a while.
Well, the reason is simple! queso fresco is naturally a crumbling cheese other than a melting cheese. Ittends to soften when heated for a while. Heating under high heat and for long periods curls up the cheese proteins and the fat and the water in cheese separate.
The curling up can, however, be combated by chopping, grating and slicing the cheese. Reducing queso fresco to smaller sizes speeds up the melting process. Ensure also that the heat is low so that it doesn’t burn.
How to melt queso fresco cheese
Melting queso fresco cheese can be hard. The cheese can however be incorporated in various recipes. We are going to cover how to melt queso fresco cheese for sauce.
Queso cheese sauce
You can use your queso fresco cheese sauce in topping burritos and pouring over your rice.
What you will need:
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup queso fresco cheese
• 1 tbsp. flour
• ½ tsp. cumin
• Salt and pepper
• 1 tbsp. butter(unsalted)
• Add butter into a pan and melt it over medium heat.
• Pour in the flour and stir for a minute.
• Pour in the milk and whisk it till they mix well with flour and butter.
• Add in the queso fresco cheese and stir until it has melted.
• Lastly, add your seasonings and serve.
How to melt queso fresco cheese dip
Queso fresco cheese dip is best served hot. The cheese should not be left to sit for long to a point of cooling. The reason you can’t leave it to cool is that it hardens and becomes difficult to dip your foods into. Some food options you can dip into queso fresco are red bell peppers, garlic bread toast, apple slices and tortilla chips.
What you will need:
• Queso fresco cheese
• Microwave-safe dish
Add a cup of queso fresco into a microwavable dish and set it in the microwave. After that, leave it to heat for 1 to 2 minutes, ensuring that the bowl is half way filled to give space for the cheese to bubble. Filling it up all the way will cause spilling once bubbling starts. The other step is retrieving the cheese from the microwave, then stirring it using a spatula. If it hasn’t heated well, return it back to the microwave for further heating.
You can also heat queso fresco on the stove. You will need a saucepan to add cheese into it then place it over a flame. Heat the queso fresco on low to prevent burning. Stir the cheese for up to 10 minutes or so for even heating.
Pour the now hot melted cheese in a dish and serve with tortilla chips. You can also serve in a bowl with some salsa.
• Add some little milk into the cheese for a thinner consistency.
• Serve the cheese dip hot.
• Keep the cheese warm by adding it in a glass pan then let it sit in a pot of hot water.
How to melt queso fresco in the microwave
Different cheese types have different melting points. Why? It’s because they have different acidity level, age and even moisture content. Whether it is mozzarella or feta cheese, understand that they respond differently to heat. So how do you melt cheese in the microwave?
i. Grate or shred the cheese
Grating or shredding queso fresco reduces the surface area of the cheese block. A smaller surface area reduces the melting time significantly. One advantage of shredding the cheese is that it doesn’t burn easily since it melts rather fast.
ii. Add it into a bowl
Place the shredded cheese into a microwavable bowl and place it in the microwave on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Heat it through till it gets an even consistency and stir between the melting time to prevent burning.
• Grating or shredding queso fresco that has been sitting at room temperature can be hard. Adding queso fresco in the freezer for some minutes eases the grating process and with lesser chances of leaving chunks and clumps.
• Stir the melted queso fresco cheese well without overmixing it for an even consistency.
• Be keen on the heating time to prevent over-exposure to heat. This might turn your cheese rubbery.
• If your cheese forms clumps, stir it for a while then toss it back in the microwave for an additional 5-10 seconds.
• Note that the size of cheese you are melting can significantly change the melting time. The smaller the size, the faster it heats.
• Add some milk into the cheese to speed up the melting.
• A microwave-safe bowl keeps liquids in place and gets easier to manage any mess once it melts out.
How to heat queso fresco
Queso fresco can be heated in different ways other than just in the microwave and stovetop. Some of the ways you can heat it include:
In the oven
• The oven is a handy appliance you can melt your cheese in. Here’s how:
• Preheat the oven to 3500F.
• Grate queso fresco and add it in an oven-safe dish then place it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
• You can retrieve the bowl from the oven in between the heating to stir it in intervals to prevent crumbling.
• Serve and enjoy once it heats through.
Heating queso fresco in a slow cooker is quite simple. Just add in your cheese into the slow cooker and set it over low then later to medium heat. Let it heat for a while till melted then stir and heat it for additional time. You can keep stirring between intervals to prevent clumping.
Frequently asked questions
How do I store queso fresco?
Queso fresco is best consumed fresh, a reason it is named queso fresco. If you happen to have some leftover cheese, just cover it with a plastic wrap and toss the cheese in the fridge to last for up to 14 days.
What foods can I eat with queso fresco?
Queso fresco is great for snacking with guacamole. It also combines well with fish tacos, chicken enchiladas and chicken fajitas among many other recipes.
Can I freeze queso fresco?
Yes, you can freeze the cheese, however, there are chances that the cheese will degrade. This is because cheese has high moisture content and therefore, is not very suitable for freezing. You can opt to refrigerate it instead.
So, there it is! You now understand that it is quite possible to melt queso fresco. The downside of melting it is that it requires a lot of patience to get the desired consistency. Even after the effort, the cheese might get grainy since it’s a crumbling cheese. Once melted, queso fresco can be used as a dip or as a sauce.