Behold the power of cheese!

Homemade American Cheese - recipe by America's Test Kitchen

I made cheese yesterday. Well, not from scratch exactly, but I did make cheese. American cheese. Good ol’ ooey gooey grilled cheese-style American cheese. I was compelled to do it when I saw an internet feed from America’s Test Kitchen promising to show me how to make homemade American cheese with no additives or preservatives (except for what may be in the block of Colby you start with). Seriously? For realz? Needless to say, I was in. All in.

The Complete Package and I love a melty grilled cheese sandwich. And since I started with a good quality all natural cheese, I’m feeling pretty content about making my own preservative-free cheese. I don’t know about you, but I find that exciting. Especially when homemade American cheese leads to homemade grilled cheese sandwiches toasted on a griddle with real butter. Excited yet? Well, I am. I’m practically drooling.

Here’s the rundown on what you’ll need:
One 2-cup mini-loaf pan lined with plastic wrap
Twelve (12) ounces of grated Colby cheese
Unflavored gelatin, combined with little water
Dry milk powder, salt & cream of tartar
Whole milk
A food processor & a rubber spatula
Approximately 20 minutes of your time

In a nutshell, you grate the Colby cheese on the ‘small hole’ side of your box grater and throw it in the food processor with the milk powder, salt & cream of tartar. You bloom the gelatin in a little water then add it to boiling milk, whisking until the gelatin dissolves. Then you start your food processor and slowly pour the milk/gelatin mixture into the cheese mixture, blending for at least one minute until the cheese mixture is smooth, creamy and a little glossy.

Grate it, blend it, mold it & fridge it. Easy peasy cheesy.

Then you simply scrape it into your prepared mini-loaf pan, pressing it to remove air bubbles and smoothing out the top. You then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to set up (for 3 hours up to overnight).

I don't want to freak you out, but you're destined for sandwich greatness, my friend.

That’s it. It couldn’t be easier. And it only took about 20 minutes from start to finish, including lining the pan, making the cheese and washing the dishes. I’m impressed. I tell ya’ – the folks at America’s Test Kitchen know what they’re doing. I’m just grateful they are willing to share their knowledge with the rest of us. For the link to the actual recipe, click here. Handy tip: have some bread & butter on hand because you’re going to want to make a grilled cheese sandwich as soon as this is ready. I like mine with a steamy mug of tomato soup. Mmmm…

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28 Comments

Filed under Food & Recipes

28 responses to “Behold the power of cheese!

  1. I haven’t made homemade cheese yet because I’m way too lazy to deal with cheesecloth. But this? This is marvelous! I eat mine with tomato soup too. mm mm mm!

  2. Kat

    I’m still majorly questioning whether or not this should even be legal. But seeing how manageable the process is, it has definitely moved from Completely Insane into The Realm of Possibility.

    And it really makes me want to enjoy the buttery goodness of a proper grilled cheese :)

  3. That’s really cool! I’m definitely going to try this. I love American cheese on my grilled cheese sandwiches but I always feel like I’m cheating on “real” cheese. Not if it’s homemade!

    • I love your “cheating on real cheese” comment. I feel the same way. It’s a guilty pleasure food that I usually try to hide in the bottom of my shopping cart. But now I can buy a block of good quality Colby cheese and come home and make my own American. The fact that it’s quick and easy just makes it that much better. Let me know if you try it and what you think!

  4. So cool! I love this idea…and I LOVE cheese! I bet you could do this with Swiss…oh now my brain is churning out the possibilities!

  5. Yum! I could do this! And thanks–now I’m so craving grilled cheese! ;) I’m totally a dunker too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. gapgrad

    Wow. That is ridiculously simple. I am going to have to try that some day, because I love, love, LOVE a mean grilled cheese…hungry already…

  7. The fact that I always have the makings for homemade American cheese and yet I never knew it is slightly unsettling to me. I love a great grilled cheese–it was the first meal Bacon Slayer ever cooked for me. Grilled cheese on Wonder bread (Blech! Bachelor…) and Fritos. Son #1 insists that he only likes American cheese or “round” Colby that comes in the wax cylinder. Either way, I like to dunk my grilled cheese in a steamy bowl of chili.

  8. Craftiest

    Are you cheesing me? Really, homemade American cheese? You ARE my favorite sister. I thought we had bonded over the Haloumi but sister, I think you just out did me. I imagine this as a big pan of baked macaroni and cheese with buttery bread crumbs on top. Oh, God, I have to go the the grocery store in the morning. Must buy colby cheese………

    • I cheese you not, Crafty Sister! You CAN make American cheese at home. I didn’t believe it when I first saw it either, but it’s true! I swear! Now go grab some Colby and start making cheese. I want to hear how your mac & cheese turns out.

  9. Gayle

    Can this work without the milk powder or is there a lactose-free substitute for the milk powder?

    • Hi, Gayle!
      I don’t think you can substitute dairy-free in this recipe, especially given that 12 ozs. of real, natural cheese is the cornerstone of the recipe. I did go back to the America’s Test Kitchen website (where I found the recipe & method). Here’s what they say about using whole milk powdered milk:
      “This recipe calls for whole dry milk powder; don’t mistakenly buy nonfat milk powder, which is the far more common of the two. We order our whole dry milk powder from King Arthur Flour Company.” I’m sorry, Gayle, but I’m afraid this is one of those recipes that simply cannot be adapted with the same result as real milk products. Thanks for dropping in and asking, though! -jeanne

      • Gayle

        I discovered this dairy recipe is lactose-free without substitutions. The milk powder from King Arthur Flour Company is lactose-free (label shows sugar-0 g). Lactose is the sugar found in milk and milk products. Real dairy products can be lactose free. For example, the cheddar in the recipe is 0 g sugar in almost all brands in a grocery. Thanks for referring me to King Arthur for the milk powder. This opens another world of eating experience for my husband who is completely lactose intolerant. I can’t thank you enough for the info. Gayle

      • You’re welcome, Gayle – and thank YOU for coming back to let me know. I learned something today about lactose intolerance and cheese.
        Appreciate it! -j

  10. Bobby D. Thompson

    So, what makes American cheese American cheese? Why wouldn’t I just make a Colby cheese sandwich?

    • Good point, Bobby. All I can say in response is that I didn’t name it so I’m not sure why it’s referred to as American cheese. Perhaps there is some type of history divulged in the America’s Test Kitchen link? Since this recipe is created from natural Colby cheese, it technically IS a meltier version of a Colby sandwich. The bonus is that this is a better option for those opposed to consuming that vile block in the yellow box (in my humble opinion). -j

  11. Matthews Matthias

    Strange recipe – what are the ingredient quantities?

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