In our family, the words “processed” and “cheese” paired together will result in a wrinkled nose and furrowed eyebrows. The thought of taking perfectly good cheese, melting it down, and adding more things like whey, emulsifiers, milk, salts, preservatives, and food coloring is something we would never consider. It’s just wrong. Processed cheese is often called “fake cheese” in our house, though a few of us may have some hidden in the back of the refrigerator… *cough* kraft singles *cough*.
Much of the literature on processed cheese has been hidden away in the past, either protected by patents since expired, or held as trade secrets. Modern cheese making has taken a renewed interest in this type of cheese because of the customization opportunities. Its versatility has made processed cheese one of the most popular varieties in the world. Processed cheese can be packaged into everything from a block, to a slice, to a can! I mean, you can spray cheddar out of a can. Who doesn’t want to draw little smiley faces with cheese??
Technically, this type of cheese cannot be sold as “cheese”, it has it be called a “cheese food”. The FDA bases how a cheese product is labeled on their milk fat, moisture content, and their cheese content. Cheese content is measured by these three categories.
* Pasteurized process cheese – contains 100% cheese
* Pasteurized process cheese food – contains at least 51% cheese.
* Pasteurized process cheese product – contains less than 51% cheese
If you are interested in making your own processed cheese (this way you know exactly what goes into it), click HERE for Aunt Ruth’s recipe and directions! She also had some pretty cute kids over to play with the stuff so you can see what kind of fun you can have with your family!
Basically what she did is mix milk, cheese, and gelatin creating a simple and much more wholesome version of this versatile cheese! Fun fact! While this Aunt Ruth’s version used only 3 ingredients, the ingredient list for a Kraft single looks more like this…
- Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes)
- Protein concentrate
- Sodium citrate
- Calcium phosphate
- Sodium phosphate
- Lactic acid as a preservative
- Annatto and paprika extract (color)
- Vitamin A palmitate
- Cheese culture
- Vitamin D3
We like Aunt Ruth’s version better 😉