Pre-shredded cheese may seem like the best thing since sliced bread (or sliced cheese). But its deceiving looks can cause a lot of trouble in the kitchen when it comes to choosing the best cheese for nachos or other melty dishes. The unsuspecting shreds lining supermarket shelves contain wood pulp that keeps them from melting — and they'll make you look like a rookie if you're trying to create a cheesy dish.
Cheese that's been previously shredded isn't the same as a block of cheese you'd shred at home. Not only does pre-shredded cheese taste different, but most store-bought shredded cheese is also coated in cellulose to prevent the cheese from sticking together by reducing its moisture.
This makes the product look nicer in its package and simpler to use. But you may want to buy a block of cheese instead, now that you know what's really in those shredded pieces.
Yes, There's Wood Pulp In Pre-Shredded Cheese
Almost all pre-shredded cheese (and some brands of parmesan cheese) contain cellulose. The cellulose that's added to food is, at its core, a type of wood pulp.
Before you panic, you should know that this ingredient is safe to consume and is considered a food-grade substance. Cellulose is added to several packaged food items, including ketchup, salad dressings, barbecue sauces, ice cream, and more. That's because it prevents excess moisture (think of it as a food-safe deodorant) from occurring inside food packages.
Cellulose can also be found naturally in fruits and vegetables, but that type of cellulose is not an added artificial ingredient. Wood pulp, or sawdust, is created once wood has been cut and processed. Aside from its somewhat odd origins, cellulose poses a problem when it comes to specific recipes that call for cheese shreds, thanks to its moisture-wicking properties.
Cellulose Prevents Cheese From Melting
There's an undeniable time-saving factor to using pre-shredded cheese. But using this type of cheese in nachos, in a grilled cheese sandwich, or on pizza won't yield the perfectly melted results you're looking for. Cellulose reduces the amount of moisture in cheese, meaning those cheesy dishes would be better served using a block of cheese that's been shredded by your two hands.
Packaged shreds may be perfect if you're looking to create a dish with shredded cheese that doesn't need to have an ooey-gooey melt factor. Shredded cheese can make for fantastic food styling and might be just what you need if you have a recipe that requires cheese shreds but not melted cheese.
But when you want to make the perfect plate of nachos, you're better off buying and grating a block of cheese instead. Shredding doesn't take that long, and melting is guaranteed.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.