Do you have Prince Queso in a can?

Laurie asked for cheese in a can for Christmas. She got cheese in a can.

The cheese in a can is Cougar Gold, made since 1948 at Washington State University in the southeast corner of Washington, an area known as “Idaho.”

I had my doubts about Cougar Gold. Laurie assured me that she had heard it was really good, but I figured (a) the people who said it was good had low enough standards to buy cheese in a can, and (b) it’s made at our alma mater’s rival university. (Laurie and I both went to University of Washington, WSU’s mortal enemy on the pig-iron, or whatever a football field is called.)

Well, mea gulpa, or however you say “I’m a cheese-eating snob” in Latin. As Laurie was opening the can, which is shaped like a huge can of tuna, I realized that there’s no real difference between cheese in a can and cheese in the thick shrinkwrap that Tillamook uses on its two-pound baby loaves, which we buy all the time.

So, of course, Cougar Gold really is good, a very crumbly white cheddar, suitable for your most rustic bread or Prince Charles Biscuits. Janet Fletcher, the San Francisco Chronicle’s cheese whiz, wrote a column about it last year. I was going to say it would be cool if you could put the cheese back in the can and reseal it, which you can’t, but when has two pounds of cheese ever lasted more than a few days around here?

The only remaining funny thing about Cougar Gold is that you have to keep the can refrigerated. Are there any other canned foods that have to be refrigerated?

3 thoughts on “Do you have Prince Queso in a can?

  1. Andrew Feldstein

    Aha! For that matter, I’ve never bought canned cheese, but after your post I’m considering it.

    Maybe you don’t need to get your crab canned since you’re near the coast, but I do since I’m in the great Midwest.

    Canned pasteurized crab is pretty good stuff, but not as good the fresh picked stuff (even from frozen crabs), and not usually as good as the fresh picked stuff I can sometimes get at the supermarket seafood counter in plastic tubs (especially around Christmastime), but it’s definitely way better than that super-salty-but-otherwise-unflavored stuff in the cans on the supermarket shelf. And while fresh picked tubbed crab, when I can get it out here in exurbia, has a shelf life of something like a week or so, the canned, refrigerated stuff has a shelf life of a year or more–so that’s the stuff I keep around.

    Costco carries this stuff. In fact, I did a gumbo on Sunday with the first can I got from there. I’d never tried their brand, Blue Star, but it was perfectly serviceable stuff, which makes me glad because it’s a lot cheaper than the black can Phillips’ brand that the gourmet stores carry.


    I might have added to my original comment that my mother’s canned (i.e., “put up” in canning jars) gefilte fish must also be kept refrigerated. Since homemade gefilte fish lasts only a few days to a week in the fridge, and since freezing, while possible, dramatically changes the texture, my mother sometimes cans some of her fish–she only makes it for the Jewish holidays. The canned fish must still be refrigerated, but it lasts several months. It’s never really lasted long enough to tell just how long.

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