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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dehydrating cheese

You ever buy mac & cheese in the little boxes?  Well, I've bought them because I really like the convenience of the powdered cheese.  I sometimes use the packets of powdered cheddar cheese for other dishes instead of just for the macaroni.  It's good on popcorn, as a topping for a casserole, and mixed in various other dishes.  For a long time I've wondered if I could make my own powdered cheese.  Let me tell ya.... I did it!  I'm so proud of me. 

To make powdered cheese I first took the boxed American cheese (from the senior commodities) and grated it.  I put some into the dehydrator thinking that should dry it out quickly.  Wrong move!  All I got was a melted and hard glob of cheese that had to be soaked off the tray. 
 Hmm.... you ever have a child put cheese into the refrigerator that's not quite wrapped and gotten a hard crusty edge on it or a dried out slice?  I thought to myself... ta da!  To dry cheese all that's needed is to put it into the refrigerator and let it dry.  So I did.  I put the grated cheese in an uncovered bowl into the fridge.  Every time I went near the fridge, I tossed the cheese to get more exposure for drying.  It took about a week to get really dry cheese.

Now let me explain that the next step wouldn't be easy without the new Kitchen aid mixer and food grinder attachment my daughter bought me a few weeks ago.  This could be done with a food processor or a blender if that's all someone has.  It would be more time consuming but could be done.  I put the really dry cheese through the food grinder and got powered cheese.  In the picture it looks like little cheese balls but that's just the way it came out of the grinder.  It really is fine powder.

Well hmm.... the next step is to see if it acts like the powdered cheese that comes in the mac & cheese boxes.  I cooked some macaroni to give it a taste test.  I did just like the box says to do.  A little butter and a little milk then the cheese.  It worked!  I couldn't tell the difference except my dry cheese is American cheese instead of Cheddar.  I had to experiment a little for the portion size.  I mixed in a little cheese, tasted, mixed in a little more cheese, until I got what I liked. 

What's really exciting is that I won't be getting rid of anymore cheese because it's long past the use by date.  In dry powder form it can be stored for a much longer time.  I can find many more uses for the cheese and not simply eating another bowl of mac & cheese or having grilled cheese sandwiches.  My powdered cheese will be only natural cheese, not something containing items like Maltodextin, Disodium Phosphate, Insoinate, Guanylate, and Silicon Dioxide.  Whatever those are.  Not even spell check knows those words.

Can you see the possibilities too?  Gosh, I'm excited knowing this is one more way of preserving foods to help with my budget.  Hmm.... I wonder what dehydrating Mozzarella would be like.  How would it work on pizza?  I might give it a try just to see what happens if one of the food fairies leaves me a package of Mozzarella.


kathi said...

WOW i never THOUGHT of that. we have been giving the "extra abundance of cheese' to one of the kids. THIS month we got TWO cheeses. the american and CHEDDAR. hmm. what an idea. HOW do you STORE the dried cheese? freeze it? bag it? need INPUT.

Anita Estes said...

Dried cheese can be stored in a jar in the cabinet or on a counter. It's the same as you would store Land o lakes powdered cheese bought in the small bottles.
I get only american cheese, commodities here don't give cheddar.