Cheddar Cheese: The Melting Mystery of Its Oily Texture

  • Cheddar cheese becomes oily when melted due to its high fat and low moisture content, a characteristic of many hard cheeses
  • Cheeses ideal for melting and avoiding oiliness should be low in fat and have higher moisture, unlike cheddar
  • The melting behavior of cheese, including whether it becomes oily, is significantly influenced by its fat and moisture composition
  • Low-fat, low-moisture cheeses tend to burn rather than melt smoothly, highlighting the balance needed for perfect melting cheese
  • Mozzarella is an example of a cheese that melts well without becoming oily, making it a popular choice for pizza

Is Cheddar a High-Fat and Low-Moisture Cheese?

How well a cheese melts will always come down to its fat and moisture content.

And unfortunately, if you’re looking for an oily and greasy mess, then cheddar cheese comes near the top.

Cheddar cheese typically has 35g of fat per 100g.

The same can be said for a couple of my favorites, namely Red Leicester and Double Gloucester, as well as most hard cheeses.

So, the higher the fat content, the more oil you can expect a cheese to produce when it is melted.

However, it doesn’t end there.

All cheese will produce oil when melted, but for it to melt and brown in the way that we all love it needs to be a high-moisture cheese.

And you’ve guessed it, cheddar cheese is NOT high in moisture.

Can You Melt Low-Fat and Low-Moisture Cheese?

When it comes to melting cheese you also want to avoid low-fat, low-moisture cheeses.

Granted, the low-fat content means that melting this type of cheese won’t produce as much oil.

So, you can rest assured that your low-fat, low-moisture cheese won’t be greasy.

However, due to the low moisture content, the cheese won’t typically react well to heat.

Unfortunately, you’ll find that this type of cheese will burn when placed under the grill or in the oven.

As an example, Gouda (27%), Parmesan (29%), Edam (27%), and feta (21%) may not be considered extremely low fat, but they don’t contain that much moisture.

So, if you do try to melt these, without keeping a very close eye on them, they will burn.

Is Low Fat and High-Moisture Cheese the Best for Melting?

Hopefully, you see where I’m going with this now.

The best types of cheese for melting will always be low in fat and high in moisture.

When you melt a cheese like this it will initially steam and produce large bubbles.

Plus, it also helps if this type of cheese is quite elastic.

The large bubbles produced by low-fat, high-moisture cheese will break the surface of the oil initially produced by the melting process.

This will then expose the moisture within the bubble to the heat of the grill or oven, which helps the oil to evaporate.

The result, is perfectly melted, browned cheese, and no oil or grease.

One of the best cheeses that adhere to all these principles happens to be mozzarella.

And this will explain why mozzarella is typically used as a topping for pizza.

With that being said, mozzarella can be high-fat or low-fat.

So, if your cheesy pizza topping is greasy, then you can guarantee that high-fat mozzarella has been used.

How Dominos Makes Pizza

My Final Thoughts

So, as you can see, the reason that cheddar cheese gets oily when melted simply comes down to the type of cheese it is.

Cheddar cheese can be considered a high-fat, low-moisture cheese.

And pretty much all high-fat, low-moisture cheeses will get greasy or oily when melted.

Conversely, if a cheese is low-fat and low in moisture it will typically burn when placed under heat, whether in the grill or oven.

So, the perfect cheese for melting, one that will brown without burning or getting oily, will be low in fat and high in moisture content.

And just in case you weren’t aware, mozzarella ticks all the boxes, and this is why mozzarella is used as the preferred cheese topping for pizza.

And talking of the moisture content, find out what difference this makes to whether a Cheddar cheese crumbles or not.

Are there specific recipes or types of cuisine where you find the oily texture of melted cheddar to be particularly beneficial or problematic?

Let us know in the comments below!

FAQ

Why does cheddar cheese get oily when melted?

Cheddar cheese becomes oily when melted due to its high fat and low moisture content. Cheeses with a high-fat content tend to release more oil during the melting process compared to those with lower fat and higher moisture content, which melt more smoothly.

Is cheddar cheese considered a high-fat and low-moisture cheese?

Yes, cheddar cheese is considered a high-fat, low-moisture cheese. It typically contains about 35g of fat per 100g, which is similar to other hard cheeses like Red Leicester and Double Gloucester. The high-fat content is a major factor contributing to its oily texture when melted.

Can you melt low-fat and low-moisture cheese without it becoming oily?

While low-fat, low-moisture cheeses may not become as oily when melted due to their lower fat content, they do not melt well because of their low moisture content. These types of cheeses are more prone to burning when exposed to heat, rather than melting smoothly.

What type of cheese is best for melting?

The best types of cheese for melting are those that are low in fat and high in moisture. These cheeses will steam and produce large bubbles when melted, which helps break the surface of the oil and allows the moisture within the bubble to evaporate, resulting in perfectly melted, browned cheese without oiliness. Mozzarella is a prime example of a cheese that meets these criteria.

Why is mozzarella preferred as a pizza topping over cheddar?

Mozzarella is preferred as a pizza topping because it adheres to the principles of being low in fat and high in moisture, which are ideal for melting. This results in a perfectly melted, browned cheese topping without oiliness. Mozzarella’s texture and melting properties make it especially suitable for pizza, as it can be either high-fat or low-fat, with the low-fat version being less likely to make the pizza greasy.

How does the fat and moisture content of cheese affect its melting behavior?

The fat and moisture content of cheese directly impacts how it melts. High-fat, low-moisture cheeses tend to become oily or greasy when melted, while low-fat, low-moisture cheeses may burn or not melt properly. The ideal cheese for melting without burning or becoming oily is low in fat and high in moisture, as it will melt smoothly and brown nicely under heat.

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