Dairy Products – Cheese

There are a number of shelf-stable cheese products that are suited for storage programs.  Each of them have particular strengths or weaknesses for given uses.  The basic forms storage cheeses can take are:

CANNED CHEESE:  Actually, it’s “Pasteurized Processed Cheddar Cheese Product” but it’s the closest thing to a shelf-stable real cheese that I’ve yet found.  It’s another one of those products produced for use in countries where home refrigeration is scarcer than it is here in the U.S. The only brand available in the States that I know of at this time is made by Kraft’s Australian division whose product most resembles a mild white cheddar or perhaps an American cheese.  The only U.S. source for this cheese that I have found thus far is again Bruce Hopkin’s Internet Grocer (http://www.internet-grocer.com).  It comes in an eight ounce can and the manufacturer claims it will keep “indefinitely” at any reasonable storage temperature.

DRIED GRATED CHEESES:  These are the familiar grated dry Parmesan and Romano cheeses, possibly others as well.  They’re generally a coarse dry powder, low or non-fat, and often with a fair amount of salt.  Kept dry, cool, and dark they’ll keep as they come from the store for several years though to get the maximum possible shelf life you should vacuum seal them in glass.   Usually fairly expensive for the amount you get but as they’re also strongly flavored a little will go a long way.

CHEESE SAUCES AND SOUPS:  These are products such as Cheez Whiz, Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup, chip dips and related.  They’re not really cheese, but a mixture of cheese, milk, flour, and other ingredients.  Depending on what your end uses may be they can provide a cheese flavor, calories, and a degree of protein, fat, and calcium.  In any decent storage conditions they’ll keep for several years at least.  Aerosol cheese is an abomination that will not be discussed here.

POWDERED CHEESE:   Used in products such as boxed macaroni and cheese, au gratin potatoes, snacks, and the like, this is basically cheese that has had its moisture removed leaving behind mostly protein, fat, a fair amount of calcium and various flavoring and coloring compounds (naturally occurring or added) along with a fair amount of salt.  It can’t really be melted, but it can add a nice cheese flavor where a real cheese texture is not needed.

There are also cheese powder blends, typically a mixture of cheese powder, food starch, whey, milk solids and other non-cheese ingredients.  It has less fat than true cheese powder, about the same protein, but less calcium.  You can make it yourself with dry milk and cornstarch so there’s little point in not getting real cheese powder.

Cheese powder will keep for many years in sealed metal cans kept at cool temperatures.  You’ll probably have to get it from restaurant foods suppliers or order it from storage foods dealers.  It’s high fat content means that it needs low-oxygen packaging.