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Dave the Cook

The Melty Cheese Calculator: what have you made?

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2 hours ago, TdeV said:

Chefsteps cooks the sauce for 25 minutes at 75C (167F). The cheese vessels in the photos in this thread don't look like saucepans. Is that correct?


Chefsteps bags everything and tosses it in a sous vide tank, that's the only reason for the time and temp numbers. You can do it in a saucepan on the stove or a bowl or container in the microwave in less time with less setup, doesn't really matter as long as you get it all melted together. I think the only advantage to the chefsteps method would be if you wanted to do a bunch of individual bags at once that you could chill and toss in the fridge for another time.

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It happens that I bought granular citric acid recently for another project. I know that sodium citrate is a salt form of citric acid. What is the practical difference between the two for this purpose? Can I substitute citric acid for the sodium citrate, and do I need to adjust the formula? Or should I order sodium citrate if I want to make melty cheese? 


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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16 hours ago, Smithy said:

Can I substitute citric acid for the sodium citrate


The quick and easy answer is no, you can't. The more technical answer is yes, you can. You can't use citric acid as a direct substitute but you can make your own sodium citrate solution from citric acid, baking soda and water and use it as part of the liquid in the recipe.

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On 9/24/2019 at 1:57 PM, Tri2Cook said:


The quick and easy answer is no, you can't. The more technical answer is yes, you can. You can't use citric acid as a direct substitute but you can make your own sodium citrate solution from citric acid, baking soda and water and use it as part of the liquid in the recipe.

I followed the instructions in that reddit post a year or so ago because I had the ingredients on hand and didn't want to wait for delivery.  It works.  I did most of the boiling on the stove, then transferred to a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven and let it finish baking in there (larger surface area).  I wasn't sure how the boiling down would work in the pot, whether it would scorch or damage it which explains the oven.  I'm not sure if parchment is water proof and could be some chance of a reaction with the aluminum sheet pan and left over citric acid if measurements are right.  You end up with crystals and powder.


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2 hours ago, jedovaty said:

I followed the instructions in that reddit post a year or so ago because I had the ingredients on hand and didn't want to wait for delivery.  It works.  I did most of the boiling on the stove, then transferred to a parchment lined baking sheet in the oven and let it finish baking in there (larger surface area).  I wasn't sure how the boiling down would work in the pot, whether it would scorch or damage it which explains the oven.  I'm not sure if parchment is water proof and could be some chance of a reaction with the aluminum sheet pan and left over citric acid if measurements are right.  You end up with crystals and powder.

 


You don't have to do all of that evaporation if you're going  to use it in a liquid application. Just use the sodium citrate solution as part of the liquid called for in the recipe.


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12 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:


You don't have to do all of that evaporation if you're going  to use it in a liquid application. Just use the sodium citrate solution as part of the liquid called for in the recipe.

 

Absolutely correct.  At that time, I decided to do it this way mostly because it was an interesting experiment to watch the salt appear (wish I had filmed it). I was also too lazy to do the additional math to figure out how much I actually needed of each ingredient for the dishes I was playing with, and couldn't find my scale that's accurate to the 0.1g.  So many excuses 😛  With an hour or two of evaporation, I now have a tin of this sodium citrate salt :) 

 

Solution or salt, they both work!

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The preceding discussion made me think (a) that it would be fun to make my own sodium citrate and (b) that experiment would further delay any attempts at working with the stuff. I bought a package of sodium citrate and today, finally -- yes, it really has taken this long -- had time to play with it and the Melty Cheese Calculator.

 

I love ham in macaroni and cheese, and we had leftover ham that I'd set aside for that purpose. I used an American cheese with onion and garlic, recommended by my DIL; milk was the liquid. I used the calculator to get the appropriate cheese consistency: 300g cheese, 300g milk, 12g sodium citrate. Heated the milk and cheese, threw in the sodium citrate, stirred until it all melted, and added to the cooked macaroni and ham. After baking until the dish was browned and bubbly, we ate.

 

20191121_204335.jpg

 

This was a success: quite tasty, and easier than the roux method!

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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On ‎6‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 5:02 PM, Dave the Cook said:

We might -- or might not -- have made an announcement when we first posted the Melty Cheese Calculator. You can find it here, but in case you don't want to dig up this post every time you need it, we've added a link in the "Browse" tab at the top of the page.

 

Anyway, a friend was asking what kind of cheese or cheeses one might use in it, as the technique pretty much allows you to treat almost any (I haven't had any failures yet) cheese as if was Velveeta or Cheez Whiz. Modernist Cuisine and the subsequent Modernist Cuisine at Home offer up a few possibilities, but I'm sure we can top those. Here are some of the combinations/applications I've used:

 

  • Aged provolone and Tillamook extra sharp cheddar -- sauce for cheesesteaks
  • Gruyere/various aged cheddars for mac and cheese 
  • Jalapeño jack and manchego for a broccoli casserole
  • Just last weekend: Baby Swiss and TJ's Unexpected Cheddar for mac and cheese
  • Aged gouda, unaged gouda and Monterey Jack -- chilled,  cubed, breaded and deep fried to make "croutons" Here's a photo.

 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had tasty fun with this technique. What have you made? Share!

 

I have two pounds of Gruyere and 400g of sodium citrate.  How do you use the calculator?

 

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18 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I have two pounds of Gruyere and 400g of sodium citrate.  How do you use the calculator?

 

 

Click on the "Melty Cheese Calculator" tab near the top of the screen. (I've circled it in the image below.)

 

Figure how much cheese you want to make melty. I wouldn't do 2 pounds at once, but it depends what you want to do with the final sauce. Convert that number to grams, and enter it in the calculator. 

 

Select the texture you want. It's a pull-down menu.

 

Screenshot_20200501-131402.jpg

 

The calculator will then display, in the bottom lines, how much liquid and sodium citrate you need for the sauce texture in question.

 

If you click on the blue "Advanced Settings" then you can tweak the ratio of liquid you want and sodium citrate you want for the calculations. I haven't played with that.

 

Screenshot_20200501-132019.jpg

 

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Problem is the calculator shows no results for me.  That's why I asked for help.

 

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35 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Problem is the calculator shows no results for me.  That's why I asked for help.

 

Maybe post a screen shot of what you are seeing and indicate what device/browser you are using. 
It is working for me with Safari on an iPad running iOS 13.4.1 

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

Problem is the calculator shows no results for me.  That's why I asked for help.

 


After entering the cheese weight, I have to click one of the textures or somewhere on the screen outside of any of the boxes for it to show a result. Just entering the number and leaving it on the default texture didn't give a result. Might be less confusing if it had a "choose one" as the texture default so you have to click a texture.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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44 minutes ago, blue_dolphin said:

Maybe post a screen shot of what you are seeing and indicate what device/browser you are using. 
It is working for me with Safari on an iPad running iOS 13.4.1 

 

This is with Windows 10 and IE11...

MeltyCheeseCalculator05012020.thumb.png.01afc43165ff5170f9ae8fe4f710aa52.png

 

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Hmm... not sure then. I'm using the same OS and browser and it works for me as long as I click somewhere after I enter the number. You obviously did since the default texture is changed.

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How do you know how much cheese you want to use for the dish if you are not following an actual recipe and just winging it?  For example, mac-n-cheese.  Say I have 200g noodles.  Or 364g noodles. I can plug the numbers into the calculator, but I don't know.. 120g cheese, 200g cheese, 30g cheese?  Hmmm.

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1 hour ago, jedovaty said:

How do you know how much cheese you want to use for the dish if you are not following an actual recipe and just winging it?  For example, mac-n-cheese.  Say I have 200g noodles.  Or 364g noodles. I can plug the numbers into the calculator, but I don't know.. 120g cheese, 200g cheese, 30g cheese?  Hmmm.

There isn't going to be a great way to answer that, since it will depend on both personal preference and the shape of your pasta. If you look at a standard Mac & Cheese recipe that you like, look at the cheese quantity they use, and go with that as a starting point. Martha Stewart, for example, suggests 26 oz cheese to 16 oz elbow macaroni.


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17 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

There isn't going to be a great way to answer that, since it will depend on both personal preference and the shape of your pasta. If you look at a standard Mac & Cheese recipe that you like, look at the cheese quantity they use, and go with that as a starting point. Martha Stewart, for example, suggests 26 oz cheese to 16 oz elbow macaroni.

Okay, that's what I was afraid of, I don't have much experience with melted cheese foods in the home.  I did a brief search earlier for recipes (not here) and most used volume measurements, so I'll just have to try harder and look for mass, or, do the measurements ahead of time.

 

I miss the days when my mac-n-cheese was simply grating colby-jack on warm elbow noodles.

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40 minutes ago, jedovaty said:

I miss the days when my mac-n-cheese was simply grating colby-jack on warm elbow noodles.


The mac-n-cheese police won't come for you if you keep doing it that way. :D This is just an alternative, not words written in fire on tablets of stone.

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I gave this a go with some cacio e pepe last night.  Eerrrrrmmmm.... after searching around, I chose 60g romano, 60g water, and the homemade 2.8g sodium citrate (made about a year ago) for my ~150g egg noodles (1 egg, 70g ap, 30g semolina).  This was default for mac-n-cheese.  The sauce was so smooth out of the pan, but once plated it cooled down and there were small glops of very soft cheese between some noodles and mostly on my plate, with no actual sauce.  Its texture was between havarti and brie.  Should I have chosen fondue?  Hmm.  The world of melty cheese foods is quite befuddling.

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2 hours ago, jedovaty said:

I gave this a go with some cacio e pepe last night.  Eerrrrrmmmm.... after searching around, I chose 60g romano, 60g water, and the homemade 2.8g sodium citrate (made about a year ago) for my ~150g egg noodles (1 egg, 70g ap, 30g semolina).  This was default for mac-n-cheese.  The sauce was so smooth out of the pan, but once plated it cooled down and there were small glops of very soft cheese between some noodles and mostly on my plate, with no actual sauce.  Its texture was between havarti and brie.  Should I have chosen fondue?  Hmm.  The world of melty cheese foods is quite befuddling.

 

Honestly I don't care for the modernist style cheese sauce for pasta sauces (it's great as a queso replacement, say). If it cools at all you can get a really unpleasant texture. When I do something like mac and cheese or similar, I inevitably add starch to the sauce, which seems to prevent the almost plastic-like texture it can sometimes get when it cools. 

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