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Feb 2, 2006 12:43 PM

Cotija cheese & Queso Fresco: Are They the Same?

  • k

I have a Diana Kennedy recipe that calls for cotija cheese. Is this the same as queso fresco?

Also, if a recipe calls for one sprig of epazote, and I can't find it nearby, will it really make a difference if I omit it?

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  1. you might want to move over to home cooking.
    cotija is the crumbly dry stuff, different from queso fresco which is soft, like farmers cheese

    you can leave out the epazote, but your recipe will taste a little different. It's such a particular tasting herb . . .


    1. No, not the same. Cojita is aged, drier, more intense, and good for grating (although it's usually still soft enough that you can just grind it up in your fingers). It's more like parmesan and is usually sprinkled over dishes just before serving. You can garnish with fresco in the same way, but the result is different. Any place that sells fresco should also sell cotija.

      Epazote has a unique flavor that really adds a lot to some dishes (e.g., black beans). But it won't hurt anything to leave it out. By the way, I have noticed that fresh epazote is sometimes available in those packaged organic herbs that are sold at places like Whole Foods. Oddly enough, it's almost impossible to find fresh in Mexican grocery stores. Dried is not worth using in my opinion. I grow my own.


      1. I believe epazote is also an anti-flatulent which is why it's often added to beans.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ko

          I've been told the same by many Mexicans.

        2. The Cook's Illustrated that was published a few months ago and had a recipe for Tortilla Soup in it, has a good description of Epazote and the closest, easiest available substitute. I do not have the magazine available to me right now but maybe someone else does and could copy what it says.