Queso Andino, Andean cheese, is a Peruvian semi-hard cheese, which is made throughout the Andean highlands, from Cajamarca in the north to Junin in the center to Cusco and Arequipa in the south. It has a mild, subtly salty flavor and a smooth, slightly creamy texture. While there are many variations depending on the region where it is produced, in general it can be compared to Swiss cheese.
How Peruvian Queso Andino is made
While the method to make Queso Andino varies from region to region and from cheesemaker to chessemaker, generally first enzymes, lactic acid bacteria and rennet are added to fresh cow’s milk and left until the milk coagulates. After cutting the curds mass it is shaken to remove some of the whey. The curds are then washed, salted, pressed, and shaped into a round or rectangular shape.
To give the cheese it’s characteristic flavor, texture, and color it is then submerged into a brine for several hours. Afterwards the cheese is left to mature for anything between a month or two.
How does Peruvian Queso Andino taste
The result of this elaborate cheesemaking process is a delicious, everyday cheese representing the Andean regions of Peru. While the color of the popular Queso Andino varies from cream to yellowish, a result of the local milk, the cheesemaking method and brine, it usually has a mild, subtly salty flavor and a soft slightly buttery texture without eyes.
Uses of Peruvian Queso Andino
Peruvian Queso Andino is a crowd pleaser and extremely versatile. It’s delicious on a slice of bread or toast for breakfast, as a snack in between or added to salads. As it melts quickly it’s great on hot sandwiches, Burgers, for gratinating or in pasta dishes.
Queso Andino with an additional Peruvian touch
While originally Queso Andino is mild in flavor, today, some artisanal cheesemakers add herbs, such as huacatay or oregano, or Peruvian chili peppers, like aji amarillo or rocoto, to their Andean cheese creating unique and absolute delicious variations with the special Peruvian kick.