Cheddar Cheese: The Melting Mystery of Its Oily Texture

Don’t you just hate it when that happens, why does Cheddar cheese get oily when melted?

We all know that there are few better things in life than melted cheese.

Whether in a toasted/grilled sandwich, atop a pizza, or covering your nachos with a sprinkling of jalapenos.

However, whenever you try to melt cheddar cheese you’re typically left with a horrible, oily, and greasy mess.

What gives?

Allow me to explain what you need to know about melting cheddar cheese.

The main reason cheddar cheese gets oily when melted is due to its high-fat and low-moisture content. And this is true of any high-fat, low-moisture cheese. Furthermore, a low-moisture and low-fat cheese will typically burn rather than melt. Therefore, the best cheeses for melting will always be low-fat and high-moisture, e.g. mozzarella.

1. 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.

In fact, 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 definitely NOT high in moisture.

2. 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.

And 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.

3. 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.

Basically, 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 in nature.

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, perfectly melted, browned cheese, and no oil or grease.

One of the best cheeses that adheres 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

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 the grill or oven.

So, the perfect cheese for melting, one that will actually 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.

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