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Scientists are infusing cheese with potato starches to improve meltability

Mike Pomranz
July 19, 2018

Processed cheese often gets a bad rap. Yes, slapping both Roquefort and Velveeta on a wooden board and calling it a cheese plate might raise some eyebrows, but as anyone who’s ever tried to make a decent queso can tell you, processed cheeses have their place. Another positive: We already know that processed cheese is a bastardized form of cheese, so frankly, it comes with the added bonus of not having to care what sort of weird ingredients companies shove in there… like, even, potatoes.

Speaking of which, the global ingredients solution company Ingredion recently announced its latest processed cheese innovations, and these new products have a more in common with Idaho than Wisconsin. CheeseApp 50, 70, and 80 – as the three new ingredients are called – are potato-based starches specifically developed to improve the “meltability, firmness and gratability” of cheeses, according to FoodBev Media. Yes, if you want to sound like a processed cheese professional, it’s time to add the words “meltability” and “gratability” into your lexicon.

Though these potato-based cheese ingredients are a first for Ingredion, the company is hardly the first to offer up potato starch cheese additives. For instance, a Danish company called KMC offers its “CheeseMaker” line of potato starch-based ingredients intended “to roll back milk protein costs as well as matching your customers’ requirements for specific product characteristics.” Similarly, a Dutch company called Avebe offers its Perfectamyl and Perfectagel range of potato-based ingredients while lamenting that “processed and imitation cheese do not naturally receive the appreciation it deserves.”

To be fair, Avebe might have a point – especially when it comes to the latter example. As the number of vegans continue to rise, so does the opportunity for growth in the imitation cheese market. As Ingredion points out, not only are potato starch-based ingredients helpful for making better processed cheese, they’re also vegan-friendly ingredients that can be used to make things like a better “vegan block cheese.”

That said, Ingredion also repeatedly states that these potato starch ingredients come with another advantage: cost. “With the CheeseApp solutions, manufacturers can substitute protein and still produce a high-quality product with appealing texture at a lower cost,” Severine Bensa, senior marketing manager at Ingredion EMEA, said in a statement. Not that cheap cheese is inherently a bad thing, but… yeah, you’re not going to be finding any potato starch in your Roquefort.

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