I have made my own yogurt, and I’ve made my own butter….but I have never attempted to make my own cheese. It’s been on “my list” of things I want to eventually try, but fairly far down because I figured it was pretty complicated. That was until I ran across a recipe for American Cheese that sounded quite easy! Besides, I was really craving a good grilled cheese sandwich…so I decided to go for it.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of “American Cheese” I think of something like Kraft Singles. But Kraft Singles aren’t really “cheese”…they are a “pasteurized prepared cheese product” and contain a highly processed mixture of ingredients such as water, milk, milkfat, milk protein, whey, food coloring, flavorings, and emulsifiers.
Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? So how come they are so dang delicious in a grilled sandwich or melted over a cheeseburger? I’ll tell you why…because American cheese has great MELTABILITY! (completely made up word there.)
Luckily there is a way to make your own “processed cheese” with just a few pantry items and some “real” cheese thrown in that is every bit as gooey delicious as its Kraft counterpart but much better for you.
Homemade American Cheese
Adapted from a recipe at America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 1 pound
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
12 ounces Colby cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon nonfat powdered milk (recipe called for WHOLE fat powdered milk but this is what I had on hand and it worked just fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
Mix water and gelatin in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.
Combine cheese, milk powder, salt, and cream of tartar in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until combined.
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from heat, then stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.
With the food processor running, slowly add hot milk mixture to cheese mixture until smooth, about 1 – 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Immediately transfer cheese mixture to prepared pan. Wrap tightly and chill at least 3 hours.
Then when you unwrap it a few hours later……..
…….get ready for the best grilled cheese sandwich of your life!
By the way….the cheese can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month.
I can’t wait to make it again and add some coarse ground black pepper….or maybe some jalapenos! :-)