What is Pepper Jack?
Pepper Jack is a type of cheese from the USA. This type of cheese is made from cow’s milk. It is white to yellow in color and is flavored with peppers and other spices. This semi-soft cheese has a spicy and buttery flavor. It is often used with savory dishes such as burgers, quesadillas, etc.
- Pepper Jack is a spicy version of the Monterey Jack cheese produced in the California region of the US.
- Other versions of Monterey Jack are Colby Jack and Dry Jack.
The top 8 most popular Pepper Jack brands are:
- Land O’ Lakes
- Boar’s Head
- Trader Joe’s
- White Rose
- Maple Leaf
- Organic Valley
Monterey Jack, of which Pepper Jack is a spicy version, is one of the four cheeses invented in the US. The history goes right back to 1769 when Spanish missionaries opened up monasteries in San Diego and Monterey Bay. They brought their cattle along and began producing cheese locally, known as Queso blanco pais.
After the Mexico – US war in 1846, Mexico was forced to handover California to the US in return for a paltry 15 million dollars. David Jack, a gun salesman, became a large landowner through corruption and land seizure. The land he acquired contained large swathes of cattle ranches, where this cheese was produced. Jack began to market these cheese and labeled it after the region and his own name.
Nutritional profile for Pepper Jack (1 slice):
Pepper Jack cheese is rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, vitamin A, retinol, and carotene. Also, it contains magnesium, zinc, selenium, folate, choline, vitamin K, and fatty acids in decent quantities. Regular consumption of cheese may help in combating inflammation, preventing osteoporosis and arthritis, decreasing the risk of fractures, and managing obesity.
Pepper Jack’s preparation involves using cow’s milk. Different types of chilies such as jalapeños, serrano peppers, and habanero peppers are used for the spiciness. First, the milk is heated and then cultures are added in and the mixture is stirred. Then, ingredients such as black peppers and chilies are roasted and added to the liquid. Next, rennet is added to produce the curds. After that, the whey is drained off and the curds are formed into molds. Finally, the cheese is washed and pressed to remove any excess liquid. This cheese is usually allowed to age for up to 3 months.
Pepper jack recipes
Pepper Jack works well with dishes that require melted cheese. It is suitable for pairing with spicy food or with sweet foods on a charcuterie board. Here are a few recipes.
- Pepper Jack Mac
- Cheese Balls
- Cheese Biscuits
- Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
- Cheese Crackers
- Cheesy Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Corn Bread Salad
- Cheesy Potatoes
Monterey Jack is classified as a type of cheese containing at least 50 percent milkfat and no more than 44 percent moisture. It is prepared by mixing a lactic acid-producing bacterial culture and clotting enzymes to pasteurized cow’s milk.
- Matt Blitz, The Tragic Way Monterey Jack Cheese Got Its Name, Food & Wine Magazine
- Rozenberg, Serge et al. “Effects of Dairy Products Consumption on Health: Benefits and Beliefs–A Commentary from the Belgian Bone Club and the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.” Calcified tissue international vol. 98,1 (2016): 1-17. doi:10.1007/s00223-015-0062-x, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703621/
Dekker, Louise H et al. “Cheese and Healthy Diet: Associations With Incident Cardio-Metabolic Diseases and All-Cause Mortality in the General Population.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 6 185. 17 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00185