What is Colby Jack Cheese?

colby jack cheese cut into cubes

Maybe you’ve already tried the most popular cheeses in the world like cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella. And now you’re interested in a different kind of cheese: one that’s made in America and with so many uses! We’re talking about Colby Jack. So, what is Colby Jack cheese? Learn its background, nutrition facts, taste, and storage tips in this article.

What is Colby Jack Cheese?

Colby Jack cheese, also called Co-Jack, is an American-made cheese that combines Colby and Monterey Jack. It has a semi-soft texture. A lot of people sometimes confuse Colby Jack with cheddar cheese, and rightly so, since both kinds of cheese are orange in color — except that Colby Jack has a whitish marbled appearance. 

Aside from Colby Jack, other Jack cheese variations include horseradish jack, morel jack, and salsa jack. You might have also heard of pepper jack, which has a prominent taste due to the addition of spices, such as jalapeños and habañero chilies. 

Origin and History of Colby Jack Cheese

It has been said that Colby Jack cheese was invented in 1885 by Joseph F. Steinwand in a cheese factory in Wisconsin, Colby. Since he was 16 years old, Steinwand helped his father in the factory. He also took part in a cheesemaking course, which inspired him to experiment with different cheeses. 

How is Colby Jack Cheese Made?

Before combining Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses, each cheese is made by sourcing cow’s milk, then mixing pasteurized milk and bacterial cultures. The next step involves adding a natural coagulant (rennet) to separate the curds and whey. It’s similar to how you would make cheddar cheese. 

To give an orange color to the cheese, annatto is added to Colby. Finally, both the curds of Colby and Monterey Jack are blended to produce the final product, which is Colby Jack cheese. 

Types of Colby Jack Cheese

Like other cheeses, Colby Jack is available in different varieties due to additional steps — e.g., incorporating ingredients like herbs and spices, and smoking cheese on purpose. Besides regular Colby Jack, you might encounter the following at the supermarket: 

Jalapeño Colby Jack 

This cheese incorporates bits of jalapeños for those who would love an earthy and spicy flavor. Jalapeño Colby Jack is perfect for Mexican dishes, including nachos, dips, and chicken pasta. 

Smoked Colby Jack

This is produced by placing Colby Jack inside a smoker. Wood chips, such as apple, maple, pecan, or hickory (which imparts a stronger flavor) are used. 

Garlic and Herb Colby Jack

This variation is flavored with garlic and basil. It’s a beautiful addition to salads, cheese boards, baked potatoes, and other baked recipes. 

Colby Jack Cheese Nutrition

A 28-gram serving of Colby Jack cheese provides [*]:

  • Calories: 109
  • Protein: 6.8 grams
  • Fat: 8.8 grams 
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6 grams

Colby Jack is a great option for meeting your daily protein and fat needs while keeping your carbohydrate intake low. It’s a healthy treat for people who are struggling to manage their blood sugar levels and trying to lose weight. Check out other low-carbohydrate cheeses and learn the potential health benefits of cheese.  

What Does Colby Jack Cheese Taste Like?

Colby Jack Cheese taste may vary from mild to slightly sweet to tangy depending on the flavors of the individual cheeses (Colby and Monterey Jack) used. It can sometimes remind you of the taste of cheddar due to Colby cheese, except that Colby is sweeter and a bit moist. Overall, Colby Jack tastes delicious. It makes any recipe that calls for cheese even better! 

What is Colby Jack Cheese Best Used for?

Colby Jack can serve as a melting cheese for casseroles, fondues, nachos, and grilled sandwiches. If you need a quick snack or something to serve your guests, Colby Jack also makes a healthy treat on its own! Pair it with crackers or sweet fruits (like apple and pear slices) if you wish. 

Colby Jack Cheese vs. Cheddar

One obvious difference between these cheeses is that Colby Jack has a marbled pattern while cheddar is plain orange. As for the taste, plain cheddar is sharp and tangy while Colby Jack is creamy. Furthermore, Colby Jack does not go through a cheddaring process, unlike cheddar cheese. (Cheddaring involves flipping and pressing curds to draw out the whey.) 

How to Store Colby Jack Cheese

Regardless of the variety of cheese, keep it in a cool and airy environment, such as the vegetable compartment or crisper drawer in your fridge. This ensures a stable temperature. And since Colby Jack has a semi-soft texture, it’s recommended to wrap it loosely in cheese paper (or wax or parchment paper). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are frequently asked questions about Colby Jack cheese: 

What’s the difference between cheddar jack cheese and Colby Jack cheese?

Cheddar Jack tastes sharp due to cheddar, while Colby Jack tastes smooth and nutty. Both types of cheese use Monterey Jack and they look similar in their marbled appearance. 

Is Monterey and Colby Jack the same?

No. Monterey is just one type of cheese, Monterey Jack, while Colby Jack is a combination of two cheeses — Monterey Jack and Colby. 

What are some substitutes for Colby Jack cheese?

In case you can’t find one in the grocery, go for either Colby or Monterey Jack as a substitute for Colby Jack. Other alternatives include American cheese (a combination of various kinds of cheese, including Colby and cheddar) and mozzarella. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re a huge advocate for American cheeses, Colby Jack is definitely worth a try. It’s rich in protein and fat, low in carbs, and great as a standalone snack or melting cheese.

Explore other cheeses at Käze! We have different kinds of cheese snacks made from real cheese like cheddar, gouda, and more. Try our snacks today

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