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I got a Hickory Farms box over the holidays (as a gift), and it included a brick of "smoked cheddar/swiss", a processed cheese that was "naturally" smoked. Yesterday we decided to use it on baked potatoes, and were startled to find out that it doesn't melt, at all. Even after 10 minutes in a 325F oven*, it looked pretty much the same as when I first grated it.

Now, I'm used to thinking of processed cheese being super-melty. Velveeta is the queen of melty cheeses, down to the point of folks making their own fake Velveeta to have something for cheeseburgers. And I'm used to high-salt and/or "cooked" cheeses (like paneer) being non-melty, but this was neither of those.

What do manufacturers like Hickory Farms do, or add to, processed cheese that causes it to not melt? And why?

(* for comparison, real American cheddar melts after 5 minutes in a 325F oven)

  • 2
    Some people might take offense at "real" and "American" both being used to describe Cheddar ... but I seem to recall smoked gouda not melting as easily as a similarly aged gouda ... so it might just be dryer. – Joe Jan 10 at 23:25
  • Well, 'American cheddar" is a different cheese from "British cheddar", which is important in context because as a dry, aged cheese British cheddar tends not to melt easity. – FuzzyChef Jan 10 at 23:30
  • Perhaps a semi-duplicate of cooking.stackexchange.com/q/20330/8305 – Jay Jan 11 at 5:07
  • Yeah, but that doesn't answer my specific question. The processed cheese in this case is a semi-soft cheese with what appears to be a high oil and moisture content. – FuzzyChef Jan 11 at 6:27
  • Speculation but I wonder if the smoking or a related process had a similar effect to poaching halloumi (that doesn't melt easily and is poached in its own whey, presumably affecting the protein structure). – Chris H Jan 11 at 6:48

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