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I have some American Cheese with fine white crystals on the outside of each slice. They have a gritty texture. Is this a sign that the cheese is spoiled, or just lactic acid salts like aged cheese gets?

  • I give the slice a quick rinse and dry with paper towel and the grit is gone. – Rich Jul 16 '17 at 5:18
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It is calcium lactate crystals. It is safe to eat. On regular cheeses it is a sign that it is aged well. For packaged, sliced american cheese I am not sure I would care for it. But it is a matter of personal preference.

  • We made grilled cheese sandwiches with it. They tasted fine. – Frank Szczerba Jan 13 '12 at 18:16
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When the protein in milk (casein) breaks down, the amino acid, tyrosine, will form crystals inside the cheese. These are common in some aged Gouda, cheddar, and, I think, manchego. These are perfectly harmless and actually indicate that the cheese is well aged. I don't know if this is the same as crystals on the outside, and American cheese is certainly not aged.

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