National Mac & Cheese Day: How Cheese Melts!

National Mac & Cheese Day

There’s nothing like gooey, yummy, melted cheese. Essential for burgers, quesadillas, and of course mac & cheese. Today we are celebrating National Mac & Cheese Day and to do so, we are taking a deeper bite into melted cheese. Let’s break it down.

The science behind how cheese melts

Melted cheese is a science. Cheese is made up of protein and this protein is the key difference between good melting cheese and bad melting cheese. When cheese is heated up, the protein breaks and some hold their shape better than others. For example, younger, high-moisture cheeses like mozzarella, Taleggio, brie, Gruyère, Emmental, and Jack are the most reliable melters. Drier grating cheeses, such as Parmesan and Pecorino-Romano are not.

What are the best cheeses for melting?

The best cheeses for melting are called process cheeses. These products are designed to be easily meltable and difficult to break. Start with real cheese, usually a young cheddar, and blend it with extra milk, extra milk protein, and melting salt to prevent proteins from sticking together. A good example of this is American cheese, where they have so much extra liquid added to them, they have very low melting points, allowing for extra-gooey melted cheese.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are acid-set cheeses. Impossible to melt no matter what type of tweaking you implement. Fresh goat cheese, quick farmers cheese, paneer, queso fresco, and ricotta just can’t melt. When heated, the acid in these cheeses lose water, but not proteins. Water will continue to be cooked off, but the proteins in the curd are only going to tighten, holding the cheese together. These cheeses won’t melt, but you can cook or even grill them! 

What are the best cheeses for mac & cheese?

Well, good melters with quality taste, like sharp cheddar. Sharp cheddar is the most common, and it works great, and if you’re using a cheesy blend we recommend cheddar as the base. Now, you get to mix in some fun, flavorful cheeses. Gruyère is common, it melts just as beautifully as cheddar, but brings additional tasty flavors to the table. Gouda, Muenster, fontina, Havarti, and Monterey Jack are also excellent options.

Enjoy National Mac & Cheese Day with a melty, flavorful blend of your own. For whichever cheese you choose to call upon, stop by your local Price Chopper/Market 32 to pick it up or shop with us online!

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