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Is it possible to make smoothly melting cheese slices at home, similar to Kraft American cheese slices?

What are the key techniques?

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Recipe requests are off topic, but I'll throw you this: seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/09/… –  sourd'oh Mar 21 at 16:00
    
@sourd'oh : I'd count this more as mimicry, myself. –  Joe Mar 21 at 16:03
    
@Joe My comment was made before the edit –  sourd'oh Mar 21 at 16:05
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@Joe I knew what he was talking about too, but he was definitely requesting a recipe. –  sourd'oh Mar 21 at 17:35
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@sourd'oh If you know the on-topic form of a question, it's most helpful to suggest an edit to the OP or just fix it yourself. Just saying it's off-topic implies that there's no saving it. –  Jefromi Mar 21 at 18:39

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sodium citrate is a salt that is often used in making cheese sauces. When you dissolve it in water before melting the cheese into the same it will prevent the cheese fats and proteins from separating and thus prevents the sauce from becoming grainy. It can also be used to melt, thin, and remold cheese into new slices which have better melting characteristics than the original cheese.

If I may cite my source (Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet, Volume 4, Page 222) and offer a recipe as example: To make 635 grams of cheese slices:

  • Mix 5g salt, 14g sodium citrate, 6g iota carrageenan, 2g kappa carrageenan and disperse them into 230g of water.
  • Bring to a simmer
  • Gradually add 200g swiss cheese and 180g white cheddar to the water mixture, blending with an immersion stick or whisking constantly.
  • One the cheeses are incorporated continue to blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a mold and refrigerate for two hours until the cheese sets.

Essentially we just melt the cheese(s) into excess water with some thickening and stabilizing agents. Once it sets slices may be cut off in the case you have a mold. If you don't have the capacity to make nice slices you could pour the mixture directly into a sheet pan so it may set at the desired slice thickness.

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See this article from Kenji Alt's Food Lab column.

He makes slicable cheeses from various different types of cheese, using gelatin as a stabilizer that provides the rapid melting characteristics, and condensed milk.

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A simple way to make this is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to a few teaspoons of lemon juice, and heat in the microwave until all the reaction has ceased (about a minute). You now have sodium citrate

Then add a cup of grated medium cheese and gently heat and stir until smooth

You now have a form of plastic cheese

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You'll likely offend people by calling it 'plastic' cheese, as the typical name for it is 'American' cheese.

You should be able to find recipes for it under that name, such as this one.

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The typical name probably depends on where you are. For example, it's not called 'American cheese' in the UK. Here, it is often referred to as 'cheese slices' (written on the packet) or 'plastic cheese' (in casual speech), and I have not experienced anyone getting offended by that. I have heard of it called 'plastic cheese' in other languages/countries as well. –  asameshimae Mar 21 at 17:00
    
Maybe we should call it the "world series of cheese" :-) –  TFD Mar 22 at 19:04

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