How Does Your Cheese Melt?

We love the ooey-gooey – that melty delight that is fondue, grilled cheese, and everything in-between. But in your own cheesy experimentation you’ve probably noticed how some cheeses just aren’t as up to turning melty as others. It doesn’t mean we love them any less (I mean, who doesn’t love that crispy crust of Parmesan on a Chicken Parm?) but we know they’re just different. Have you ever wondered why? Don’t worry, we’re here to break it down for you, Cheesers.

First things first, it’s all about the fat! The fat and water ration in cheese determines how it is going to melt. So something that is higher in moisture is usually going to be a better melter than a drier alternative. That’s because the protein structure (which is what keeps the water and fat separated) is looser in high moisture cheeses, and very rigid in dry ones. 

So when heat is applied to most cheeses, the fat globules change from solid to liquid, which is when it starts getting that ooey gooey consistency. The protein structure loosens its grip under the heat, and the cheese begins to flow like a thick liquid rather than a solid – think of dripping, delightful fondue, and you’ll have the right idea in your head!

This is why age isn’t just a number when it comes to melting cheese – the age actually means a lot! Freshly made cheeses don’t have that maturity level yet, with their proteins tightly wound up. As they gain a little bit more time, the proteins loosen up, and create a more open matrix (think of it as a net that holds all the water and fat). That matrix is flexible, which is why they melt smoothly and don’t break. But if it ages too much, those proteins tighten up into tough clumps – that’s where that crispy cheese comes in.

So the best melters are a combo of age and moisture – Emmentaler, Gruyere, Comte, they are all well aged, with a flexible protein net. Their high moisture helps separate the proteins without breaking them completely, which allows them to flow into stringy, ooey-gooey meltiness. It totally makes your mouth water just thinking about it, right? Science is so much funner when it’s delicious.

You can hit up some of our favorite melters and get started on your own grilled cheese, fondue, and other cheesy experiments! 

Winter is Here to Stay – Stock Up on Winter Cheese

Punxsatawney Phil has spoken and it’s official: Winter is here to stay, at least for another six weeks. While we might not be stoked for the cold weather, there is a plus side to six more weeks of winter – more winter cheese! From our favorite fondue classics, to tangy, warming cheeses, there’s only a few weeks left before these delicious little guys are overshadowed (Groundhog Day joke!) by their fresh, Spring rivals. 

Comte Saint-Antoine

Alpine styles are a go-to for winter months. It’s not just because they are the best for melting into ooey-gooey fondue (even though they’re just the right texture and flavor for a nutty, savory pot). We get our Comte from France’s Jura Mountains, and while it may capture the raw, mountain-pasture fed cow’s milk, it features winter flavors. There’s the sweetness of cooked milk, a bit of stone fruit (like dried apricots that pair oh so nicely), and the quiet nuttiness of brown butter. If you’re not feeling fondue, just slice this Comte thin and melt over winter root vegetables. Comfort food to the max!

Bayley Hazen

One of the things we love about winter foods is the inclusion of chocolate. Dark chocolates, nutty caramels, they’re all delicious and simply perfect for the winter months. But what about a cheese to go along with these succulent sweets? Blue cheese is the way to go, and nothing is better than Bayley Hazen Blue. The paste is a bit drier and denser than your typical English Stilton, but it’s the bold flavors of cocoa, roasted hazelnuts, and licorice that shine in this blue cheese. Add a bar of dark chocolate, and you’ll have a wintery dessert you’ll be craving mid-summer.

Murray’s Camembert 

It’s not just that the downy, tender rind reminds us of a field of freshly fallen snow – it does, of course. But we’re more interested in the straw-colored paste within. Hints of buttered toast are the first thing to hit your palate, totally reminding us of the cold, crisp breakfasts of winter days. After the buttered toast melts away, it’s the bold and beautiful flavors of sauteed mushrooms that stand out on the palate. Maybe cozy up with this little wheel by the fire, with a big glass of bold Bordeaux.

Tumbleweed

There’s something kind of amazing about cheese that you can pair a toasty lager or rich stout with, especially during the winter. Tumbleweed is that cheese – a cross between cheddar and French Cantal, it is filled with brown butter flavors, with a hint of tartness and fruitiness. In the winter months, the toastiness combines with an earthy flavor, creating something warm and rustic, especially when paired with a beer. The perfect combo to ride out these short remaining chilly months, if we do say so ourselves.

Greensward

There honestly isn’t a comfier snack than a wheel of Murray’s own Greensward. Slice off the top rind, and the paste inside is creamy and beautiful – a fondue minus the heat. A scoop – either with a cracker, or a spoon if you’re feeling no-frills about it – tastes of a snowy winter forest populated by pines, and freshly fried bacon. The taste is oh so much bigger than this small wheel will imply, and will keep those memories of winter alive even as the weather starts to warm.

Bonjour, Flavor!

Sometimes, what you need is an escape. Especially around the holidays. But if you can’t escape, what’s the next best thing? An experience that transports you. That’s why the gift of Murray’s is your best bet this holiday season – it can whisk you away to a land of flavor and delight. This time, we take you to France with the French Connection

Come a-whey with us – to strolls along the Seine River, leading to an afternoon lunch at a cafe not far from the Eiffel Tower. Or to cool mountain air from high up in the French Alps, watching cows and sheep graze. It all is embodied in the cheeses highlighted in the French Connection – a tour across the land of France.

First is the traditional French Alpine cheese – Comte comes from France’s Jura region, capturing the essence of raw, mountain pasture-fed cow milk with a hint of sweet milk, stone fruit, and brown butter. The rich chunk of Ossau Iraty comes from the Pyrenees – it’s a grassy-sweet sheep’s milk cheese highlighted by toasted wheat and hazelnut flavors. The Prince of French Blues, Bleu d’Auvergne comes from the same region as Roquefort, and is mellower and meatier than its spicy sheep relative. And that unassuming, miniature white wheel? That’s Chabichou – a wrinkly aged goat cheese chock full of lemon zest and minerality, the perfect tangy little bite.

But it wouldn’t be enough simply to feature cheese – The French Connection also highlights France’s answer to salumi with Saucisson Sec. Porky, with a hint of garlic, it is best served whole, while you or your guests slice medium-thick bites. With the Comte, it is divine, especially paired with the mix of French Olives that accompany it. Or top the Ossau Iraty and Bleu d’Auvergne with the Black Cherry Confit – the mix of flavors will surprise and delight.

We want to make gift-giving easy for you. Whether buying for the cheese novice or the hardcore cheese fanatic, we have something for everyone!