The Major Temperature Mistake You Don't Want To Make With Fondue

warm fondue
warm fondue - stockcreations/Shutterstock

For true cheese lovers, there may be no better indulgence than luscious fondue. Dipping toasty bread and veggies into a perfectly melty pot of classic cheese fondue is a cozy way to share an evening with friends, which is why it's been a timeless classic. Aside from losing your speared crouton in the fondue pot, there are only a few things that can mar your meal. One of those is the mistake of overheating the melted cheese mixture –- but never fear! With a bit of caution, you can avoid the disaster of a too-hot, oily, separated fondue.

The problem results from the meltable nature of the cheese itself, which is a mixture of milk proteins, fats, and water. As the cheese melts at a low temperature, the components stay combined, similar to a well-mixed vinaigrette dressing. But as the heat rises, the milk proteins start to cling together and clump up, squeezing out the water and fats. The fat floats to the top, the water might evaporate, and the whole pot is nearly impossible to stir back together. The longer the cheese is held at high heat, the more separated it will become, completely losing the creamy texture that makes fondue so dippable.

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How To Keep Your Fondue Smooth And Warm

cheese fondue in pot
cheese fondue in pot - margouillat photo/Shutterstock

You've likely already guessed the main solution -- use a lower heat setting when melting the grated cheese mixture for your fondue. Gradually adding the grated cheese to the pot and constantly stirring will also help keep the temperature down. Keep an eye on the cheese mixture as you work, and if you notice any droplets of oil, move the pot off the heat and stir it to cool back down. There's a reason cheese fondue pots are generally heavy cast iron or ceramic, too. The material not only insulates the cheese from heat but it can also keep the fondue warmer over low heat by holding the temperature more steady in those thick walls.

Most fondue recipes include two ingredients that should help keep the fondue cheese creamy: cornstarch or flour and a squeeze of lemon juice. The starchy ingredients absorb the water and fats from the melting cheese, holding them together and giving them less chance to separate. The lemon juice contains citric acid, which interacts with the milk proteins to prevent them from clumping up. With the help of these ingredients and keeping the pot over lower heat all through the melting process, you'll get a smooth textured fondue right down to the end of the pot.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.