According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) processed food is : one that has undergone any changes to its natural state—that is, any raw agricultural commodity subjected to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state. It may also include the addition of other ingredients such as preservatives, flavors, nutrients and other food additives or substances approved for use in food products, such as salt, sugars, and fats.
So what does that mean? Well, it means that processed cheese is not 100% cheese and more like 50% cheese cut with other ingredients. The added ingredients are usually salt, food dyes, preservatives, dairy and/or artificial ingredients. These ingredients make the real cheese in the mixture change significantly when it comes to the flavour and texture. It is one of the reason why they can put the "cheese" in a jar, spread, and spray can!
It makes it a lot creamier which allows the cheese to melt perfectly! Let's be honest, it also makes it last longer on the shelf which is a big plus for many companies. It is cheaper for them but also for us, the consumers. Some of the processed cheese can even be stored at room temperature for long periods of time!
When it comes to specific recipes, such as cheeseburgers or grilled cheese - you simply need that melty American cheese! It just melts in a way that other "real cheeses" cannot achieve.
But does that mean it is not as good as the real thing? Is it still healthy to consume? Just like everything else in your alimentation - you need balance! You should not be eating processed cheese every single meal, every single day. It might have a high amount of sodium and is simply not the healthiest thing you could eat. Also, real cheeses have a much more interesting flavor because of the preparation behind it. On the other hand, processed cheese have the perfect consistency!
Just like everything else in life, try to have a variety of different foods in your alimentation.
Do you like processed cheese? What is your favourite cheese?
Source: Bon Appetit · Photo Credit: Adobe Stock