One of the most popular and widely sold cheeses in Brazil is called queijo prato. This is a mild, soft cheese used in snacks and sandwiches. There are five main styles of this product that differ based on ripening time, shape, and weight. It is similar to a Danish cheese, as Danish immigrants introduced the product to Brazil in the 1920s.
Queijo prato is one of the most popular cheeses in Brazil. It is a soft cheese that is very similar to Danbo, a Danish product. The processing technique of Danbo and prato is the same, but there are subtle flavor differences due to the milk used in each.
Historians have traced queijo prato to the 1920s to the southern area of Minas Gerais, one of the 12 states in Brazil. Danish immigrants brought the cheese and production method with them. It was sometimes known as a "plate."
This product has a smooth texture with a thin rind and low salt content. The cheese is mild with a pale yellow color. It is made by semi-cooking cow's milk, pressing the curds, and then letting them age for as little as 18 days or as long as 60 days. There are variations to making this cheese, as a firmer cheese curd can be desirable in the hot summer months.
There are five main types of queijo prato that vary based on ripening time, weight, and shape. Mini Lanche is ripened the least, at 18 days. It typically weighs about 400 grams (0.8 lb) and is formed into a rectangular shape.
Lanche is also shaped as a rectangle but it weighs between 1.75 to 2.2 lbs (800 to 100 g) and is ripened for 21 days. Coboco is the most widely made variety. It is shaped in a cylinder and ripened for 21 days. The weight of this version typically ranges from 0.4 to 2.2 lb (200 to 1000 g).
The Estepe variety is shaped into a square and is ripened for the longest time, 60 days. It is also the heaviest, typically weighing in at about 13 lbs (6 kg). The Prato version is shaped in a rectangle, is aged for 45 days, and is made in blocks.
Most manufacturers sell queijo prato as soon as possible, as it will not develop any additional flavors upon aging. For this reason, most cheese production does not have a curing step. If qeuijo prato is stored then it is done so at low temperatures. Cooks have often frozen this cheese without noticing any detrimental effects to the flavor or the texture.