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 Making American Cheese

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Astraea

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Number of posts : 2726
Age : 56
Location : Arizona, USA
Favorite Quote : Beware the deadly donkey falling from the sky You may choose the way you live, my friend But not the way you die
Registration date : 2007-08-11

PostSubject: Making American Cheese   Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:49 pm

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Step #1 LINE IT

You’re basically melting down and mixing together a mixture of cheese, milk, gelatin, and flavorings. The American cheese is soft when you first make it, and needs to set up in some kind of mold. A square-edged mold would be ideal, but an aluminum loaf pan (or any mold of your choosing) works fine. Here, I used a 5- by 4-inch aluminum loaf pan and lined it with plastic wrap to help with unmolding the cheese later on.

Step #2 BLOOM IT

I found gelatin to be an important ingredient in my American cheese recipe; with all of the liquid that’s added, gelatin is necessary to bind things together. Soften it first (also known as “blooming”) by sprinkling it over a few tablespoons of water and letting it sit for about 10 minutes.

Step #3 GRATE IT

While the gelatin softens, grate the Colby cheese. I tried cheddar, but its flavor was a bit too strong for American cheese. I was looking for something pretty mild, and Colby fit the bill. Its yellow hue also tints the American cheese the sunny color that we all expect it to be. I used the small holes on a box grater to grate the cheese as finely as possible.

Step #4 PROCESS IT

Next, process the grated cheese, some dry milk powder, a bit of cream of tartar, and salt for a few pulses to get the cheese bits as small as possible before adding the hot liquid. This helps create an end mixture that's as smooth as possible. Since most of us don’t have the commercial processing machines that food companies use, a food processor is your best bet. (I did try a blender, but the final mixture was too thick for it and almost busted the motor.) The cream of tartar gives it just a slight bit of tang and the dry milk powder adds a rich, milky flavor—and only whole dry milk powder will do (fat-free powder had an off taste). There’s also a good amount of salt here, but I found that American cheese really needs that salty element to make it “authentic.”

Step #5 HEAT IT

Now it’s time to heat the milk. This is important because you want to melt the entire cheese mixture sufficiently so that it gets smooth. After heating the milk to a boil, add the softened gelatin, whisk it until it dissolves, and then transfer the milk mixture to a liquid measuring cup so that it will be easy to pour into the feed tube of the food processor.

Step #6 PROCESS IT AGAIN

Now, the fun part. With the processor running, pour the hot milk mixture through the feed tube. After a few seconds, the cheese mixture will begin to clump up. It looks a bit gritty and separated at first, but don’t worry. Just scrape the sides of the bowl down and then keep processing. After about a minute, the mixture turns into a beautifully smooth and shiny mass of goodness. Now is a good time to stir or pulse in any add-ins such as cracked black pepper or cayenne.

Step #7 PACK IT

Though it’s the perfect texture right now to spread onto a cracker, it’s also the right time to spoon it into the prepared mold, fold the wrap over it, and then press it firmly to avoid any large air pockets. The cheese begins to set up pretty quickly, so it’s important to get it packed in the mold as quickly as possible.

Step #8 CHILL IT

The cheese needs to chill about 3 hours or so to get nicely sliceable. While I really wanted to achieve the type of firm American cheese that you would find at a deli, I found that to get a firmer cheese I had to sacrifice meltability. In the end, I wound up somewhere in the middle—a soft but sliceable cheese that oozes gently when heated.

Step #9 MELT IT

And now for the real test—because no American cheese is worth making unless you can make it melt. I fried up a buttery grilled cheese and sliced it down the middle. Yum!
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Astraea

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Number of posts : 2726
Age : 56
Location : Arizona, USA
Favorite Quote : Beware the deadly donkey falling from the sky You may choose the way you live, my friend But not the way you die
Registration date : 2007-08-11

PostSubject: Re: Making American Cheese   Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:22 pm


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1 tablespoon water
1½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
12 ounces Colby cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon whole milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

1. Line 5-by 4-inch disposable aluminum loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing excess to hang over sides.

2. Place water in small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over top, and let mixture sit for 5 minutes. Pulse cheese, milk powder, salt, and cream of tartar in food processor until combined, about 3 pulses.

3. Meanwhile, bring milk to boil in small saucepan. Off heat, stir in softened gelatin until dissolved, and transfer mixture to 1-cup liquid measuring cup. With processor running, slowly add hot milk mixture to cheese mixture until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed.

4. Immediately transfer cheese mixture to prepared pan, pressing to compact. Wrap tightly and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight.
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