Cheese is a terrific ingredient that can elevate and transform almost any meal. You can use it to season a dish or as the primary ingredient in omelets, casseroles, or sandwiches (grilled cheese, anyone?). There are numerous types of cheese out there. The key is selecting the right one for the job because they're not all created equal.
Before adding leftover cheese from the charcuterie to your beef caldereta, you must understand what works and doesn’t. Certain cheeses have a better melting point than others because of crucial factors. Study what those are. Are you ready for a crash course in cheese and cooking? Let’s talk about the different cheeses to use for melting.
Different Types of Cheeses for Cooking
Dairy sections of grocery stores and delis carry different types of cheese. Take advantage of these options and go beyond your usual cheese products. Here are some of the best cheeses you can use to make sauces.
No household is without a block of cheddar. You won't find a better cheese to cook with than good ol' cheddar. Use it in grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, mac n' cheese, or melted to make creamy sauces.
One of the best types of cheese for making sauces is raclette. It has high moisture and fat content, making it great for melting. Traditionally, melting the cheese is done tableside with pans, an electric grill, and a knife or scraper. After melting the raclette, drizzle it over charcuterie, potatoes, and pickles.
Gorgonzola is available in various textures and ages. Because it has high water and fat content, this cheese is suitable for cream sauces. Create an indulgent sauce for grilled chicken by combining gorgonzola, cream, mushrooms, white wine, and a Knorr Chicken Cube.
A common ingredient in everybody's favorite pizza, mozzarella won’t melt fully like other cheeses. It does reach a soft and gooey state, making it a fun feature for paninis, pizzas, and mozza sticks. You can use it in sauces only if you combine it with other cheeses.
Edam, more recognized in the Philippines as queso de bola, is a semi-firm cheese. A common sight during the holiday season, it pairs well with ham and pandesal. You can also find it in ensaymada, cheese rolls, and cheesecake. Its melted consistency is creamy, ideal for a rich dip or spread.
Many people associate cream cheese with dessert recipes. However, there is more to this readily available dairy item than just classic cheesecake. Cream cheese is made from a combination of cream and milk. This soft cheese's mild salty flavor complements chicken roulade. Try it for dips and pasta sauce, like a creamy alfredo.
A high-moisture cheese, Brie already partially melts when left at room temperature. It is no surprise that this product, along with Camembert, is a great melting cheese. You can bake the cheese whole and make a delicious appetizer. If you intend on melting it down to make a sauce, remove the rind first for a smoother consistency. Brie pairs well with fruits, crusty bread, crackers, nuts, and jams.
Why Some Types of Cheese Melt Better than Others
Several factors affect a cheese's ability to melt.
Cheeses with more moisture have loosely packed milk proteins. These proteins separate easily when heated. It's why drier, harder cheeses, like Parmesan, become greasy and oily instead of creamy when warmed. On the other hand, a naturally moist cheese like Brie will melt in minutes.
The higher a cheese's fat content, the quicker it melts. If you have tried to soften low-fat varieties, you'll notice how stringy they get compared to high-fat ones, which melt quickly.
Cheese age also impacts how well it will melt. Generally, younger cheeses melt quicker versus older ones. Avoid adding poor melters like aged cheddar unless you want the dish to turn out grainy or oily.
Another factor that can affect melting is acidity. Acidic types of cheeses undergo a curdling process which includes an acid component rather than rennet. Any cheese with high acidity will not melt.
How it’s made
The process behind the cheese also determines whether it softens or liquefies with ease. Some types of cheese undergo a stretching technique resulting in fibrous structures that don't melt. Examples, like provolone and mozzarella, will then be elastic instead of creamy when you introduce them to heat. They're ideal choices for recipes that look for cheese pulls but not for cheesy sauces.
Now that you know which types of cheese you can use for cooking don’t be afraid to experiment. The next time you do groceries, check the available options you can use in an easy recipe. Consider starting slow and pick out melting cheeses for fondue or a cheesy gratin.