Cotija is a hard cow's milk cheese that originated from Mexico. It is named after the town of Cotija, Michoacán.
Cotija comes in two primary versions. El Queso Cotija de Montaña or "grain cheese" is dry and firm, with little taste beyond salt (the cheese is usually several times saltier than typical cheese, traditionally for preservative reasons). "Tajo Cheese" is a moister, fattier, and less salty version of the cheese that holds its shape when cut, with a flavor similar to Italian Parmesan and Greek Feta.
El Queso Cotija de Montaña is a seasonal cheese and is of limited production. Cotija cheese is produced only during the months of July through October because the cows are fed only on the rich grass that grows naturally on the mountains during the raining season, giving the cheese its unique color and flavor. Queso Queso Cotija is an artisan cheese made by hand, thus every cheese has something unique. This cheese usually comes in 17 kilo- gram cylinders with a creamy color crust It is a queso de montaña because the cheese makers live in the mountains as high as 1700 meters (5,500 ft).
The production method involves milling the curds into small pieces before pressing and aging. When cooked, it slightly softens but does not otherwise change its shape or consistency. In the mouth, the cheese breaks up again to a sand- or grain-like consistency, adding to the texture of dishes.
Cotija can be purchased in small rounds or large blocks, and it is often used crumbled or grated as a topping for soups, salads, beans, tostadas, or tacos. Like Parmesan, it is often sold already grated.