For those of you who are cheese fans, you may have had the experience of buying cheese hoping that it would melt when being heated. But after cooking it, the cheese turns brown with its original shape which makes you feel cheated. But did you know that not all cheese can melt like mozzarella. Why is that?
Different Contents and Melting Points
The ability of cheese to melt depends on its moisture content, fat content, and the type and structure of its proteins. Cheese is made up of proteins, fats, and water, among other components. When cheese is heated, these components undergo various transformations.
Melting occurs when the proteins in cheese break down and loosen, allowing them to flow as a liquid. Cheeses known for their melting properties typically have a higher moisture content and a protein structure that enables them to break down and flow when heated. The proteins in these melting cheeses have a more flexible and elastic structure.
That is why cheeses that are high in moisture and have a higher fat content tend to melt better. These cheeses are often referred to as “melting cheeses” and are commonly used in cooking and melting applications. For example: mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, provolone, Gruyère, and Monterey Jack.
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On the other hand, some cheeses have a lower moisture content and a protein structure that is more rigid and compact. Examples of such cheeses include Parmesan, feta, halloumi, and paneer.
These proteins do not easily break down and flow when heated, resulting in the cheese retaining its shape and not melting in the same way as melting cheeses. Instead, these cheeses may become soft, gooey, or slightly melted at the edges, but they won’t exhibit the same smooth, flowing consistency as melting cheeses.
Apart from differences in content, each type of cheese has a different melting point, which again is also influenced by the content. Soft cheeses like mozzarella will completely melt when the heat reaches 54 degrees Celsius. Harder cheeses such as cheddar and swiss melt around 65 degrees Celsius and cheeses such as parmesan only melt when the temperature reaches around 82 degrees Celsius.