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September’s Third Thursday: It’s Freedom Cheese! September 15, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in Cook's Illustrated, Cooking, random stuff, Third Thursday.

Welcome to September’s Third Thursday!


You know, with every Third Thursday that goes by, I marvel at just how fast the time goes, don’t you?  Another month, almost done – holy cow!

PhotobucketNot too long ago, one of our favorite people TV shows collectives launched a new bloggy-type website – America’s Test Kitchen’s Feed, and I immediately subscribed to their feed (heh) and, every morning, I’m treated to a bunch of neat information – behind-the-scenes stuff (do you realize ATK is a pet-friendly workplace?  How cool is that?), equipment reviews, random information, and some cool “do it yourself” tutorials.

Imagine – the folks at America’s Test Kitchen meets DIY!

PhotobucketAnd so, a couple of weeks ago, when Homemade American Cheese showed up in my Google reader, I knew it was a sign.

See, I love cheese.  I was raised in Wisconsin, and I am a Dairy State gal through and through.  And, once upon a time, American cheese was sort of a guilty pleasure.

There’s just something about slices of plastic-wrapped, um, plastic that, well, eventually it wore thin, I guess.  I mean, sure, it melted nicely and all, but, well, what is that stuff, anyway?


I’m pretty sure that “cheese” – the kind that’s made from milk and time – had very little to do with anything.

Now don’t get me wrong – processed cheese food does have its place, to be sure.  Nothing else really melts like those slices on a burger, does it?

Not to mention grilled cheese sandwiches – one of my all-time favorites.

But still.  It’s not really cheese, is it?


Or IS it?

Suppose you get those good folks at America’s Test Kitchen on the job, and they REconstruct American cheese?

And they start with honest-to-goodness cheese!  And milk!

Imagine that!

I mean, sure, there’s some “processing” involved, yeah.

But does it really count as “processed food” when you’re doing the processing your own self?


Yeah, I don’t think so either.

So here’s the lowdown.

You take 3/4 of a pound of REAL cheese (Colby is recommended) (we used 8 ounces of colby and 4 ounces of colby-jack) (we’re wild like that), and you shred it and “process” it with powdered milk, salt and cream of tarter.

So far, we know what all of the ingredients are, which is half the battle, right?

Meanwhile, we bloom a bit of powdered gelatin (which we keep on hand anyway) in a bit of water, stir that into some hot milk, and then pour it into the cheese mixture with the food processor running.


Processing, baby!

Once everything is mixed together, and the “cheese product” is smooth and shiny, we’re ready to pack it into a plastic-wrapped pan-bowl-vessel-container of some sort.

Remember, we’re only starting with 12 ounces of cheese, so we don’t need anything too big.

Cover tightly, and let it sit in the fridge overnight.


At which point it will be nicely slice-able and ready for whatever you’d normally use processed cheese for – the world is at your feet!

Do you want to make a nacho dip?  Go for it!

Grilled cheese?  Have at it!

You don’t have to worry about what you’re eating – you know exactly what’s in your processed cheese, because you processed it yourself!

How’s that for freedom?


Since it’s still (barely) grilling season, we went ahead and sliced some cheese and melted them on burgers.

And I’ll tell you what – the flavor and the texture were nearly identical to a certain processed cheese food which shall remain nameless.  And while that may not be what you want every day, it certainly has its place.

Plus, you know what it is, which definitely an advantage over that other block of orange stuff!

So bottom line – it was a little fussy, yeah.  But it actually tastes like processed American cheese – and there’s a reason they still make that stuff, you know!

And I’d do it again.

If you’d like to play along, leave a comment with a link to (or a description of) your Third Thursday project – tell us what you’re up to!  For loose (really loose!) guidelines, or if you want to check out some past Thursdays, they’re right here!



1. America'sTestKitchen (@TestKitchen) - September 15, 2011

Thank you so much for this blog post and for reading The Feed! Reading this post this morning has made me decide that I must have grilled cheese for lunch…. –Stephanie

Thank YOU, Stephanie! We’ve loved you guys for years. 🙂

2. Pacing Ourselves « Dark Side of the Fridge - September 16, 2011

[…] dried them, both with good results.  But. . . we’re starting to appreciate the idea of some processed foods […]

3. sjbraun - September 16, 2011

Oh, my — you are MAKING cheese? Next you will be shooting your own Thanksgiving turkey … I bow before your awesomeness 🙂 And I apologize that TT didn’t happen for me yesterday. The third Thursday sure did sneak up too fast this month!

Well. . . not exactly MAKING cheese – we started out with existing cheese and just processed it. 😀

And yeah, I can see how TT would creep up on you – you’ve still got that back-to-school stuff to deal with!

4. Blogger Spotlight: DIY American Cheese | The Feed - September 16, 2011

[…] block of American, which she used to melt on some grilled burgers.Check out her blog post! Thanks for printing this recipe. Visit AmericasTestKitchenFeed.com for fantastic recipes, […]

5. Carmel - September 16, 2011

Nice work! I made the cultured butter from the DIY page on the Feed. The instructions couldn’t be easier and the results couldn’t be more delicious. I’m not normally a fan of American cheese, but I have been tempted to try this.

Thanks, Carmel! I grew up making butter, so that was “no biggie” to me. 😉 And I agree – there’s something kind of plastic about American cheese, usually, but this is really quite good.

6. SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen - September 17, 2011

ohhh!! Love this. I was really excited to see you on ATC today 🙂

Thanks! I was pretty surprised, myself. 😀

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