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Peruvian Queso Mantecoso from the Cajamarca region

Peruvian Queso Mantecoso

Delicious buttery cheese made in Peru's Cajamarca region

Queso Mantecoso, meaning buttery cheese, is a semi-fresh cheese originating and till today mainly produced by small dairies in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru. It has a distinctive, slightly acidy flavor and a creamy texture. Queso Mantecoso represents like nothing else the region, its traditions and people and is the pride and joy of every Cajamarquino.

How Queso Mantecoso is made

Queso Mantecoso from Cajamarca is made with 100% cow’s milk from the region using a unique, 200-year-old technique. Back in the day, farms in the region were very isolated and, not being able to use or sell all the fresh milk produced immediately, farmers had to make it durable for longer times. So, the women would process the fresh milk into a fresh curd, known as “quesillo”, which could be kept for a week without spoiling.

Then the “quesillo” was salted and crushed on a stone, called batan, further improving the texture, taste, and lifespan of the “queso”. With the introduction of manual grinders, which replaced the batan stones in the 1970s, the flavor and the texture of the cheese changed and the simple “queso” became “mantecoso” (buttery).

Combining their traditional cheesemaking techniques and “modern” technology, local dairy farmers created one of the most famous and special cheeses in Peru, representing the Cajamarca region like nothing else. While there are imitations out there, the original Queso Mantecoso is produced only in the Cajamarca region. And till today women make the “quesillo” on their farms, which is then further processed mainly by small dairies in Cajamarca into Queso Mantecoso.

How does Peruvian Queso Mantecoso taste

The result of this unique cheesemaking process is a delicious cheese characteristic for the Cajamarca region, cream to straw yellow in color with a non-grainy, creamy, spreadable texture and a mild to intense, slightly acidy and salty flavor.

Today, Queso Mantecoso is a stable in the Cajamarca region and there is no breakfast without it. And it’s absolutely delicious when melted and therefore used when making grilled sandwiches, creamy sauces for pasta, Pizza, savory quiche, and other goodies.

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