With processed cheese, emphasis on the verb tense.
Vintage Ad #765: Process Cheese Made to Measure by jbcurio, on Flickr
Which isn’t intended as a slight against Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, American singles, or their cousins at all–I love the stuff.
I just mean, as between the terms process cheese and processed cheese, I prefer the latter, because these products started as standard cheese, which was then processed. It was cheese before the process got involved, so the process is something applied to the cheese, and what’s in the brick is the result of having been processed.
We learned a little bit about the process of cheese-making in the post for chicken tacos, which is well worth re-visiting, but here’s a blurb:
|Very broadly speaking, cheese is a dairy product created by curdling milk and then separating the curds from the whey. Within that basic pattern, there are myriad variations of technique, timing, and materials, creating the diversity of cheese we enjoy; but the most fundamental distinctions in the process of making cheese are how the curdling is achieved, how and how much of the whey is drained, and whether the cheese is aged after it’s produced.|
Your typical cheddar, then, is a bunch of dried-and-pressed protein curds and fats that are linked together through the aging process. When enough heat is applied, the fat and protein will separate again–and since the cheese is pretty solid, you’re going to apply a fair bit to the block if you’re going to make a macaroni and cheese, for example.
Processed cheese starts as these blocks, and is then blended with water, fat, and emulsifiers to make a cheese of the consistency and shape desired, whether that’s as a block of Velvetta, a pour-able Whiz, or even a can of you spray on a cracker.
From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Golden Nugget Meat Loaves
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce with mushrooms
1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded process American cheese
4 strips bacon, crisp cooked, drained and crumbled
2 Tablespoons minced onion
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Measure out 1/2 cup tomato sauce with mushrooms and reserve. Combine remaining sauce with remaining ingredients. Shape into 6 loaves and arrange in shallow baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes; pour off fat. Pour reserved tomato sauce with mushrooms over loaves; bake 15 minutes longer. Makes 6 servings.