Our Readers' Opinions
July 7, 2017
Cooking with cheese – Is plastic cheese really plausible?

Editor: Plastic cheese, is it really plausible?

This claim was first sent via video clipping to me by someone on WhatsApp. I was even more surprised to see it make the newspaper the same week.

I felt I needed to shed some light on this issue, having had training in food preparation and nutrition from high school to the tertiary level.

Cooking is also an art, but there is a science as to the how and why we cook certain foods in a particular way to make them palatable, tasty and appealing to the eye.

Foods from animals or foods that are rich in protein react differently to heat and temperature, based on their source, structure and how they are handled.

Most meats can be placed into two categories: tougher cuts of meat that come from the most used areas on animals, such as the legs. These require a long, slow, moist cooking for them to become tender and tasty.

Prime cuts, which are the least utilized parts of the animal, e.g. chicken breast or tenderloin and organ meat, such as liver, require shorter cooking, as long cooking or extra high heat toughens the protein and they become hard, unpalatable and indigestible.

Likewise eggs and milk products, such as cheese, need special considerations when we utilize them to make other dishes.

Processed cheese, for example hard cheddar, should not be overcooked, as this causes the protein to shrink and harden. So, instead of having smooth strands of melted cheese, you suddenly have a tough ball of plastic-like substance floating in grease.

This is also observed when pizza and lasagna are overcooked. You will notice a greasy slick and tough or burnt curds on the surface.

Adding cheese to boiling liquid can cause the protein to coagulate too quickly, turning it into a clump and squeezing out the fat into a greasy mess.

When making macaroni and cheese/pie ensure that your pasta is cooked and still hot before adding cheese. If you are baking do not keep at a high temperature for too long.

So, in essence there is really no plastic cheese. Just follow the correct procedure for cooking with cheese.

Culinary Advisor