American cheese also popularly known as processed cheese in other parts of the world is a common feature in cheeseburgers, cheesesteak sandwiches and toasted sandwiches. It’s quite a popular food item and is favoured because of the mild flavour that makes it very good at blending with other food items without overpowering the other flavours. American cheese is many times enjoyed melted and also works very well in bakes. It is however not the easiest cheese to melt into food. There a variety of ways to melt American cheese depending on the requirements of the recipe it will be used in. First, we need to clearly define American cheese.
American cheese is mildly flavoured cheese which is often creamy and salty and has a firm, almost rubbery texture. It is often made with Colby and/or cheddar cheese. It has a low melting point and can be yellow, orange or white. It traces it’s history back to the 1910s when James L Kraft began marketing processed cheese under the name American in 1916. The cheese is used in many applications including cheeseburgers, sandwiches and other fast food. It is made by grinding the traditional cheese and mixing it with an emulsifying agent and other ingredients such as colourants and heated until the elements can be mixed. The cheese is sold in individually wrapped slices.
What To Watch For When Melting American Cheese
American cheese has a low melting point. It owes this characteristic to the way it is made. Firstly it is usually processed from cheddar and/or Colby both of which are moisture-rich cheeses. Other agents used in the processing of American cheese give it a soft texture. So when melting American cheese you will find it does not take much to get it to the melting point. However, this comes with the disadvantage of the cheese burning quickly when it is exposed to extreme and direct heat. Due to this fragility using American cheese in a direct high heat situation like grilling is not ideal.
Melting American Cheese In The Microwave
The quick and easy method of melting American cheese is in the microwave. This method works great if you intend to use the cheese in a dipping sauce or want to pour it over something like nachos. All you need to pull this off is a microwave-safe dish, your cheese slices and some milk. Firstly cut or break up your cheese slices into quarters or thereabouts sized pieces. Place the cheese pieces in a bowl and add milk to the bowl. You will need one teaspoon or approximately 5 millilitres of milk for every cheese slice you have in your bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds. Make sure to watch the mixture as the cheese has a low melting point. Once the 30 seconds are up take the bowl out and stir. Your cheese may have completely melted into a smooth mixture with the milk. If the cheese hasn’t completely melted return to the microwave for a further 10 seconds. After 10 seconds take out and stir again. Repeat with 10-second intervals until the cheese has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Melting American Cheese On The Stove
If you’re trying to make a cheese sauce for something like macaroni and cheese and all you have are American cheese slices you can easily melt the cheese on the stovetop. For this, you will need butter, flour and milk. In this method, you will place the pan with the butter on a stovetop at medium heat. When you have melted the butter add the flour or cornstarch and whisk it. Whisk the mixture for about a minute then gradually add milk. It is important to use medium heat with this recipe, avoid the temptation to use the stove at maximum heat. The butter can burn easily and when the flour and milk are added they thicken the mixture rapidly. It is best to use a medium heat setting throughout the process. When the mixture has achieved a smooth consistency you can now take the saucepan off the stove. Place the cheese slices in the saucepan and stir them until they melt completely.
Melting American Cheese In a Toaster Oven
If you’re a fan of sandwiches like the cheesesteak sandwich or a turkey melt and fancy doing so with American cheese all you need is a toaster oven and you can melt your cheese for these sandwiches quickly and easily. Bearing in mind the low melting point of American cheese you can easily and quickly melt the cheese for your sandwich. There are two ways to approach the process and it depends on what else is going on your sandwich. If you want to keep the rest of your sandwich elements cold as you might do with a turkey melt you can use greaseproof paper in the toaster oven. Place your American cheese slices on greaseproof paper and into the oven. With the oven at 100 degrees Celsius watch the cheese carefully as it melts. You want to avoid the cheese completely melting on the paper. When it starts to liquefy turn the oven off and take the cheese out placing it straight from the paper onto the sandwich. The greaseproof paper is important because it prevents the cheese from sticking to other surfaces. If you are making a sandwich like a cheesesteak you can simply place the cheese on top of the other ingredients that will go in the toaster oven. Place the sandwich on greaseproof paper in most cases this is done with the ingredients up. You can use a slightly hotter oven as you will be cooking for a shorter period, around 180 degrees Celsius for 5 to 8 minutes should do. Remove from the toaster oven, close the sandwich and enjoy melted American cheese.
American cheese is a delicate cheese variety. It comes with the advantage of a low melting point but also has a low burning point and therefore requires great caution when melting it.