Ah, the joys of melted cheese. There are few things in life that are so pleasurable. Yet why do certain cheeses melt uniformly, while others don't? How come a few won't melt at all?
Several factors play a part in the melting process. One is fat content: the more fat a cheese contains, the more a cheese's casein molecules are able to separate, and the better it will melt. For this reason, lowfat and fat-free cheeses tend to melt into a rubbery consistency. The water level in a cheese also determines how it will melt. A cheese such as Parmesan is hard due to its low moisture level. Its dense molecular makeup means its molecules, even when melted, have relatively little room to flow — which is why Parmesan, unlike brie, will never get runny when it's melted.
A handful of cheeses — among them, fresh goat cheese, paneer, queso blanco, and ricotta — will never melt at all. Unlike most cheeses, which are curdled with rennet, these are curdled with acid. Cheese made with rennet retains a malleable structure, while acid alters cheese proteins by causing them to clump together.
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