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It’s no secret that Tex-Mex food is delicious and popular. It is so delicious that a buffet of different Tex-Mex food can be served and will be incredibly enjoyable. Among this food, you will find queso, a Mexican cheese dip. Similar to other condiments such as sour cream, guacamole, and salsa, you might be left with a fair bit of queso and wondering how to store it.
What Is Queso?
Queso is a Tex-Mex cheese dip that has been made with chili peppers. It is a lot different from your average homemade cheese sauce as it has a spicy kick to it. This cheese sauce is incredibly popular and can be enjoyed in numerous ways. As it is a typical dipping sauce, you can simply dip tortilla chips in queso and enjoy it that way.
Store-bought queso jars can be found near the tortilla chips and salsa jars, and can even be under some brand names. The chip company Tostitos has a dip named ‘Tostitos salsa con queso’ which is a premade jar of queso ready for you to dip tortilla chips into for a quick and easy snack.
Queso is the shortened term for chile con queso, similar to how the dish chili con carne is shortened to just chili. While in the right context, you can identify that queso is a cheese dip, there are other similar names out there. Queso fresco and queso Blanco are both different types of processed cheese. These cheeses are soft and sweet like goat’s cheese.
Not only is queso a super delicious dip for you to stock up on for your next night-in, but it is also incredibly easy to make. All you need is some green onions, canned or packaged tomatoes, your favorite chili pepper, and spices and seasonings. You can even adjust how spicy your queso is by simply adding more chili powder!
How Long Does Queso Last?
While queso is a dairy product, there are certain variables that determine how long it will last. If you buy queso in an airtight container like a jar, that is left unopened, then queso will last much longer than a similar jar that has been opened.
The main difference between store-bought queso and homemade queso is that the store-bought version has some added preservatives in it that will allow it to have a longer shelf life. These preservatives help extend the shelf life of the product, but storing the product in an airtight jar will further extend this.
At room temperature, an unopened jar of queso will be completely fine until it reaches its natural expiration date, which can be found on the jar. This date is more of a guideline or a ‘best before’ warning. The food will still be completely fine after this date, but the quality might be noticeably lower.
An opened jar of queso will only last up to two hours at room temperature. This is because, within two hours, the natural bacteria in your kitchen or hours will breed and grow enough for it to pose some risk of food poisoning. Make sure that you do not accidentally leave an opened jar of queso out at room temperature for too long. To check if the jar is open or not, you can apply pressure to the middle point of the lid. If it is easy to push down and spring back up, then the jar has been opened and the air pressure has been released.
If your jar of queso is opened, you can still store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. As long as you place it in the fridge before it has been at room temperature for 2 hours, you will be fine. An unopened jar will still be fine to leave in the fridge until it naturally reaches its expiration date.
As mentioned, store-bought queso is filled with preservatives that help it last longer. When you make your own homemade cheese sauce, you are going to most likely follow a recipe that does not include these preservatives, therefore your fresh cheese sauce will have a somewhat short shelf life.
Similar to an opened jar of store queso, homemade queso can only be left at room temperature for a maximum of two hours. This is enough time for bacterial growth to become a concern and for it to be risky for you to eat it. You can store homemade queso in the fridge and it will remain fresh for up to 4 days.
When storing homemade queso, it is best to store it in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. This will help while it is being continuously refrigerated as each time the fridge door opens, fresh air gets inside the fridge. This air could contain mold spores and other bacteria, so it is best to reduce the amount of exposure your queso gets to the air.
You can easily make the queso last a little bit longer by storing it properly without affecting the overall quality of the dip. Some people argue that some foods are ruined when placed in the fridge but this is mostly wrong, it is always better to store leftovers instead of wasting them.
As you might notice, the shelf life of queso that you make at home is incredibly short. This can be extended slightly by adding vegetable oil to the dip. This will help preserve it for a few days more and will not ruin the flavor or texture of the cheese sauce as long as you do not put too much oil in. The same can be done for restaurant queso that you might have brought home.
How To Tell If Queso Is Bad
As it is a cheese sauce, queso is very prone to perishing quickly if stored in the incorrect way. There are a few ways you can check to see if your queso has gone off. Even if you refrigerate the queso, it is still at risk of going off and spoiling.
The easiest way to identify if your queso is bad or not is to smell it. The odor you are trying to smell is an unpleasant and disgusting one. We are trying to smell spoiled cheese, not just a strong cheese scent. The smell should be easy to identify, yet you are looking for something sour and pungent. Not sour like sour cream, but more of a bad sour smell.
The second best way to identify if your queso has gone off or not is to look at it. Your queso is a dip and should have the texture and consistency of nacho cheese and other popular dips. If the texture has changed lots, such as it going lumpy or super watery, this could be a sign it is bad. If you can see actual spots of mold then it is important that you dispose of your queso and clean the area in the fridge that it has been in.
Queso; A Cheesy And Delightful Homemade Dip
Not to be confused with queso fresco, this Mexican cheese dip is amazing and tasty. It is perfect for pairing with nachos or tortilla chips for a simple yet delicious snack. While the shelf life may be around 4 days for homemade queso, store-bought queso can last a lot longer if kept sealed in the jar and stored in the right conditions.