Make, Jane, make!: Homemade American Cheese? Verdict? Worth it!


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Homemade American Cheese? Verdict? Worth it!

When I was pregnant with my first son, I had strange taste and smell aversions. (Subsequently, I discovered it was morning sickness, just without the tell-tale being sick part.) One of my weird taste and smell aversions was cheese. I thinking that I was exposing the cheese to too much moisture and it was going off really quickly... I don't know how much cheese I threw into the trash thinking it had gone bad before finally asking hubby to double-check for me.

Unfortunately, I loooove cheese and I craved for it. So I took to having processed cheese and soon bagels with a Kraft single nuked over top became a common breakfast for me. Funny to reminisce about it now - there I was, first time mom, trying so hard to do everything right for my unborn babe. All the while, feeding myself artificial cheese that was nuked (not even toasted!) over dollar-a-loaf-grocery-store bagels. I guess it could have been worse, I could have wanted spray cheese and a ramen cup ;) 

Anyway, other than the brief blip during pregnancy number one, I prefer real cheese over processed cheese ninety-nine percent of the time. But... there is something about the way a Kraft single melts over a warm hamburger patty that just cannot be replicated by the softest, meltiest real cheeses. Sometimes, to satisfy this purpose, I will buy a small pack of singles for our backyard bbqs... but I always wondered if there was an alternative.

Then a few years ago, I saw this post at The Kitchn for homemade American cheese using colby cheese as the base. My interest was piqued, however, I just couldn't get past the ease of simply buying the occasional package of plastic wrapped cheese slices. Recently though, I felt the need to revisit the idea of making American cheese at home and came upon this article at Serious Eats. The author argued that making American cheese at home could be worthwhile if you could combine the ooey-gooey melt of processed cheese with the full-bodied flavour of real cheese. The thought of using my favourite block of real cheese to produce a good tasting cheese slice (in less than 30 minutes!) was very appealing to me. 

Following J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe (found here), I was able to produce the best extra-old white cheddar slice for a burger ever! Well, at least my hubby and I think so. It melted effortlessly over a warm patty and didn't over-melt into a greasy mess like old cheddar usually does. Needless to say, I'll be experimenting with different cheeses and keeping a supply of this cheese on hand during the burger season. Fo' sho.

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