There is a special place in our hearts for processed cheese—and while we’ve explored the franken-food in its regular and spreadable iterations, we couldn’t go without taking a look at another popular category: those specifically made for melting.
Intended for topping over lasagna, stuffing into cheese sticks, mixing into sauces, and other cooking applications, these cheeses may employ particular emulsifiers and ingredient ratios that allow them to melt faster and more uniformly than natural cheese and their regular processed counterparts. Among the three brands available at our local supermarket, which cheese is the chosen one?
Taste: Perhaps the best-known of the bunch, Magnolia offers straightforward saltiness backed with just enough milkiness. It’s as simplistic (and comforting) as it gets, which is not surprising for the processed stuff—what we don’t dig, however, is the peculiar oily aftertaste also present.
Consistency: Go for this brand when you’re after the runniest, gooiest processed cheese. It feels creamy and supple to the touch, even at room temperature. When heated, it melts fast (as the name implies) to an especially oozy puddle that’s velvety-smooth, and stays that way for relatively long. But it feels a tad too liquified that it borders more on saucy than gooey, and it leaves an oily feel on the tongue that we’re not fans of.
Taste: Che-Vital offers a more complex flavor wave that resembles the brand’s regular processed cheese. There’s saltiness (of a more moderate amount than Magnolia’s), followed by the creaminess of dairy, and ending with the distinctly nutty, slightly caramelized flavor of cooked milk.
Consistency: In direct contrast to Magnolia’s, Che-Vital’s version exhibits far more solidity. At room temperature it feels just about similar to regular processed cheese, being firm enough that you can grate it and slightly grainy in the mouth. But it takes long to melt—and it barely does so anyway, turning just slightly softer after 15 minutes in the oven but still retaining its shape and most of its original firmness.
Taste: Go for Eden’s if you like your cheese sharp as they offer a much tangier blend, balanced with just enough saltiness and milkiness. It’s a great cheese for any occasion: flavorful enough to nibble on plain but still balanced enough that it complements other flavors, making it great to use in recipes.
Consistency: This version is the in-betweener between brands on this arena, being softer and creamier than the Che-Vital’s but not nearly as much as the Magnolia’s, and still being firm enough to grate at room temperature. Though slightly gooier than Che-Vital’s as it melts, it still takes relatively long to do so—and even then it solidifies fast.
The Verdict: Eden MeltSarap
It was a tough battle—each player has its own individual strengths yet no one brand exhibits all the ideal traits. Magnolia is at a clear advantage in terms of meltability but falls far back in terms of taste. Che-Vital’s and Eden’s melt slower and to a less-oozy, liquified state, but each exhibit superior and complex flavor in different directions (the former being sweeter and nuttier; the latter, sharper and tangier).
We’d be lying if we didn’t admit we just wanted to call it a tie between all brands. But after much contemplation, we give the award to Eden for offering the best compromise between taste, versatility, and meltability.