Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World. Jocoque (Mexico)
Jocoque or jocoqui is a product based on fermented milk, specific to the Mexican cuisine.
Back in the days, when pasteurized milk did not exist, jocoque was made by leaving fresh milk in a pot made out of clay, near a heat source, such as the stove, chimney, or next to open fire. This way, the milk started curdling, changing not just its structure but also its taste. These days, because industrial manufacturing of jocoque involves the use of pasteurized milk, various bacterial cultures must be introduced into the milk, to favor the curdling process. As for consistency, jocoque is somewhere between cheese and yogurt, being rather thick and creamy, similar to fresh cheese. The liquid is sometimes drained, to increase the consistency of jocoque, making it ideal to be served alongside tortilla chips, as a dip. Depending on the area in Mexico you visit, it is worth knowing that after the making of jocoque, some people prefer mixing it with various types of vegetables, such as carrots, onions, chiles, cucumbers, and others. Also, to preserve jocoque for extended periods, small balls are made that are then left to dry out and preserved with the help of olive oil, in which they are marinated.
It is very easy to prepare jocoque at home, by using any kind of milk you like, but you have to know that the pot you use is crucial. To make authentic jocoque, you need a clay pot, which allows water to evaporate through its pores. Also, the clay pot needs to be placed near a heat source during the milk’s fermentation process, as the heat influences in a great deal the development of good bacteria. The milk will have to sit in these conditions for 48 hours, time after which the jocoque should be thickened in a great deal. So, besides the clay pot, you will also need 1 gallon of milk and 1 cup of buttermilk, the one you can find in stores is just fine. Before mixing the milk with the buttermilk, you will have to heat it to 86°F or 30°C and pour it into your clay pot. Once you do so, add the buttermilk to the heated milk. Cover the clay pot so that dust won’t get inside and place it in an area where it can enjoy temperatures of 70° to 85°F or 21° to 30°, for the next 48 hours. After this time passes, you should see the jocoque thickened, so all you will have to do is to take the clay pot as it is and move it in the refrigerator, to stop the fermentation process. If you want to make jocoque in a constant manner, do not wash the pot, as it will have the needed cultures of bacteria required for the fermentation process, so it will be easier this way. If you do wash the pot, all you have to do is repeat the previously presented process.