Is that bright orange powder that comes in a Kraft Dinner box really cheese?
To make cheese powder, cheese and water are mixed to make a “slurry”. A bunch of additives, such as whey, milk fat, vegetable oil, artificial coloring and flavour enhancers, like salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG), are then added to the slurry, and the final mixture is sprayed into a very hot dryer.
Overall, the final product does not contain much cheese!
Fast Fact: A typical cheese powder contains only 15 per cent REAL cheese.
So why not just use the real thing? Well, quality-aged cheeses are expensive! Kraft Dinner would be a lot pricier if the bright cheese powder were replaced with a block of cheddar cheese. Also, cheese powder can have a shelf life at room temperature of up to 18 months — a lot longer than real cheese, which can go mouldy two weeks after opening.
Are there any cons? Well, cheese powder can lose some of its flavor in the drying process. To solve this problem, cheese powder is often made from “Enzyme-Modified-Cheeses” with flavours five to 20 times more intense than natural cheese. The enzymes (which are specialized proteins that promote certain chemical reactions) can come from bacterial, fungal or animal sources. Cheese made from this method has been proven safe for consumption.
Cheese powder is everywhere! Besides the obvious examples such as Kraft Dinner, Goldfish crackers, and Cheezies, cheese powders can be used in soups, salad dressings, snack foods, desserts and tortilla shells (just to name a few). Cheese power is also used as a filling substance to give more “body” to certain foods.
Fast Fact: Kraft Dinner hit the market in 1937 with the slogan "Make a meal for 4 in 9 minutes."
Overall, powered cheese is a safe, inexpensive ingredient that can be used to give food an extra cheesy flavor with a long shelf life.
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Article first published on November 23, 2010.
Photo Credit:stiefel; stock.xchng