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Mark McClusky's DIY American Cheese
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Makes: About 2 pounds

Mark McClusky, Wired magazine’s special projects editor, adapted this Velveeta-like cheese recipe from the Modernist Cuisine cookbook. He melts Comté, cheddar, and Gouda cheeses, adds sodium citrate and iota carrageenan to emulsify and gel the cheeses, then pours the mixture into a loaf pan to cool. Once it sets, the cheese can be shredded to use in macaroni and cheese, or sliced to top burgers for a supremely melty and gooey cheese. Watch McClusky make the cheese and use it in a grilled cheese sandwich in his My Go-To Dish video for CHOW.com.

Special equipment: Because the amounts of the chemicals used in this recipe are so small, we recommend a digital ingredient scale that weighs down to the hundredths of a gram to measure out the sodium citrate, iota carrageenan, and salt.

You will need a 9-by-5-inch silicone loaf pan for this recipe. A metal loaf pan can also be used, but you’ll need to line the inside with parchment paper first in order to easily remove the cheese.

What to buy: Sodium citrate (a.k.a. sour salt) is a preservative and emulsifying salt that helps keep the fat and water from separating in the cheese. Iota carrageenan is made from farmed and processed red seaweed. It gels and thickens very well in the presence of calcium and also helps the cheese hold up to freezing and thawing.


  1. 1Place the wine, water, sodium citrate, iota carrageenan, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly (an immersion blender can also be used). Let the mixture simmer, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer, until the chemicals completely hydrate and the mixture starts to thicken at the edges, about 2 minutes more.
  2. 2Add the cheeses and whisk until completely melted and smooth. Pour into a 9-by-5-inch silicone loaf pan (or metal loaf pan lined with parchment paper). Refrigerate uncovered until the cheese is set, at least 2 hours.
  3. 3Remove the cheese from the pan. If not using immediately, wrap completely in parchment paper and then foil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Mark McClusky's DIY American Cheese
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