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! 

Fondue It Better: How to Throw A Fondue Party

Like to customize your food? Fondue offers a wide range of options. There are numerous ways to change up the recipe each time. Never have the same fondue twice!

It’s easy. Choose your cheeses, 3# in any combination, follow the recipe, get fondu-in’!

*Pro Tip: When choosing your cheese selection for a fondue, it’s best to choose at least one alpine cheese into your mix. Try a classic like Gruyere or Emmentaler, or anything in the “Go Nutty” section.

Basic Recipe
3 Pounds  Of Cheese (Mix and Match)
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Cup Beer or Wine
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Garlic love
 Coarsely grate the cheeses and toss with the cornstarch. Heat the wine or beer with lemon juice over medium heat.  When hot, add the cheese mixture a handful at a time until melted.  Add black pepper to taste. If serving in a fondue pot, rub the pot with a clove of garlic.  Set the pot on its stand over a low flame.  Pour in your melted fondue.

Step 1: Choose Your Cheese!

Choose your cheese to create a customized fondue blend.

Go  Nuts:

Challerhocker
Brown Butter|Butterscotch

Appenzeller
Roasted Nuts|Spicy
 
Fontina
Truffels|Grassy

Get Fancy:

Etivaz
Deep Fruit|Intense nuttiness

Vendeen Bichonné
Rich|Mushroomy
Gabietou
 

Break Boundaries:

Klaverkaas Estate Gouda
Caramel|Brothy

Gorgonzola Cremificato
Yolky|Creamy

Tickler Cheddar
 

Step 2: Booze Cruise!

Grab something boozy to and an extra kick to you ‘due

Beer: Any beer works, choose based on what you like to drink. Going for complexity? Try an IPA. Looking for deep and rich? A stout will do wonders. A little bit delicate? A hefeweizen is perfect.

 

Wine: Choose whites if you’re looking for mild and sweet notes. Opt for reds for richer, berry notes.

 

Liquor: Don’t replace the wine or beer with hard liquor. Instead, take a shot (or two) to change up the flavor profile.

Step 3: Dip In!

Get Fondu-in’! Don’t be scared, dip right in!

Bread & Crackers

Cured Meat & Sausage

Pickles & Vegetables

Wanna learn more about cheese? Check out our “Cheese Course” video channel: vimeo.com/channels/cheesecourse.

 

How to Throw A Raclette Party

Raclette comes from the French word “Racler” which means to scrape. It is a cheese traditionally eaten in Switzerland. The Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of some bread. Today we use fancy machines to do the melting, but the results are just as tasty. The cheese has a mellow, slightly funky flavor that makes it the perfect accompaniment to almost anything, and the texture is ideal for melting.

 

Throwing a Raclette Party is easy. The key is to have a nice variety of meats, veggies and bread for topping with the gooey cheese. There are 2 kinds of raclette machines: one holds a quarter wheel of the cheese and heats it under a lamp, the other heats individual portions of cheese on little pans. If you don’t have a raclette machine you can use a nonstick pan to melt slabs of the cheese, it’s just a little messier.

Here are some of our favorite things to serve with raclette:

Artisanal Breads

Vegetables: Small Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Butternut Squash, Cipolline Onions, Cauliflower

Meats: Prosciutto, Speck, Jambon Royale, Finocchiona Salami, Chorizo, Roasted Pork

Fruits that go with cheese: Sliced pears, sliced apples

Fruits to refresh the palate: Grapes, Berries, Dried fruits

Acidic and briny bites to refresh the palate: Cornichons, Olives