The Fon-dos and Don’t of Melted Cheese
Here are 10 tips you need to know about melting cheese:
1. Do consider the type of cheese. Hard cheeses won't melt to the right consistency for a good dip. Try a softer cheese like Swiss, Fontina, Gruyere, Emmental, Cheddar, or Monterey Jack, which have a higher moisture content. Also, for best fondue flavor, blend two types of cheeses for a more complex bite.
2.Do bring cheese to room temperature. This softens the cheese - slowly - on it's way to reaching melting point. This step is important because sudden extreme temperature change is likely to cause the cheese to clump or become oily.
3. Do grate it. Since blocks of cheese melt differently, grating the cheese allows for even heat to permeate, thus making the melting process smoother and easier. It also speeds up the cook time so you can get to the best part... eating it!
4. Do add acid. When making fondue, add a dry white wine or lemon juice for acidity (portions may vary depending on the recipe). This step helps keep the cheeses creamy and smooth. a splash of acid in the mix binds to the calcium in the cheese, while also diluting to preventing the proteins from clumping up.
5. Do add starch. Flour or cornstarch works against clumps or strings, keeping the proteins from clumping and the fats from separating out.
6. Do use low heat. As best fondue practice, melt cheese very gradually on low, even heat. This will prevent any separation of fats in the melting cheeses. Adding a handful at a time, incorporate shredded cheese until melted.
7. Do not boil cheese. Once melted, move to the fondue pot.
8. Don't stir too vigorously. Over-stirring could allow the proteins to bond and create a stringy or clumpy texture.
9. Don't cool the cheese before serving. Serve immediately. Once removed from the stove top, the cheese will begin to cool. When melted cheese begins to get firm again it's likely to clump.
10. Do serve with a variety of dippers. Traditional cubed bread works nicely, soft pretzels are always a winner! Also, try with meats, steamed veggies, fried potatoes, and even some high acidic fruits.
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