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! 

The Science World Reports Great News for Cheese Fans

Hey Cheesers! We’re happy to report great news for anyone prepping for some serious cheese snacking this holiday season. Recent studies out of Denmark show that cheese – from the creamy full-fat Brie to crumbly aged cheddars – are just as healthy for you as their low-fat versions.

It all comes down to the types of fats and cholesterol you find in cheese. The study split subjects into three groups, with one group eating 80 grams of regular, high-fat cheese every day for 12 weeks. The other group ate 80 grams of reduced fat cheese, and a third group somehow survived with no cheese at all – just bread and jam each day.

People who enjoyed the high fat cheese diet actually saw an increase in their levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol – HDL cholesterol, or “good cholesterol”! This type of fat has been theorized to offer protection against heart diseases and to help jumpstart metabolism. Not only that, but compared to the people who ate the reduced fat cheese diet, the high fat cheese didn’t show any difference in the low density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, which is “bad cholesterol”.

The Danish investigation is the most recent in a long line of pro-cheese studies that have come out in recent years. A British study in 2012 showed that molded and blue cheeses, such as the famous French Roquefort, can help guard against cardiovascular disease. It turns out that these blue cheeses have an anti-inflammatory factor that works with the acidic environments of the body to help prevent heart disease.

Another study from Denmark from 2013 looked at the correlation between butyric acid levels in those who ate cheese and those who did not. Those who ate cheese had much higher levels of butyric acid, which has been linked to reducing obesity and raising metabolism.

In Japan, it was found that cheese consumption prevents fat accumulation in the liver – a very important measure for cardiovascular risk. This study also found the high HDL “good cholesterol” levels raised when eating cheese was a part of the subjects’ diet.

Between the boost in HDL cholesterol and no notable effect on the “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as the anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, and metabolic benefits, it looks like there’s no need to skimp on delicious cheeses this holiday season in favor of their low fat variations.

Celebrate the holidays (and this great news) by checking out the wide variety of delectable cheese’s Murray’s has to offer – your body, science says, will thank you.