failure: modernist cheese sauce

A very last minute, off the cuff decision to try the smooth and creamy cheese sauce with sodium citrate. I had the sodium citrate in the pantry and I checked on line for the simplest method - maybe that was my mistake?? It was 1/2 c water or liquid and 1/2 t sodium citrate, bring to simmer to dissolve then add 8 oz grated cheese. I used mostly cheddar and a bit of scamorze. For a moment I thought it worked but then it got strange and separated into a very gluey blob surrounded by chalky milky liquid, they would not stir together. So rather than wasting the 8 oz of cheese, I thought I would rescue it in my trusty vitamix. It still stayed separate in liquid and blob and the blob wrapped itself around the blade and stayed there. A huge failure. Was I wrong in thinking this was a easy sauce to throw together??

I make a nice cheese sauce via a roux. works perfectly. the only way to boo-boo it is rushing / overheating.

that said, the Giant brand Colby cheese I’ve used for a decade+ has changed - it’s crummy, goes all grainy no matter what. I thought I was being careless - so last time I pot sat the roux&cheese over long slow heat - in a 3 mm copper pot on top of a Bella Copper diffuser plate - and it still turned out as a grainy, funny tasting mess. I have abandoned all Giant private label cheeses - they all come from the same creamery and it looks like somebody needed a bigger bonus - and product quality has been discontinued until further notice.

so - the cheese makes a huge difference - a mild cheddar should melt down smooth as silk. I switched to a mild BoardHead Cheddar - which works splendid - but costs $16/pound - which makes mac&cheese not a inexpensive option… so I’m playing with other options.

if you are melting down 100% cheese, the basic ingredient ie the cheese will be the difference in success and failure.

ps never did the sodium citrate thing; found no need to investigate…

You probably need to be more precise in your measurements with sodium citrate. I would use a scale.

Try these proportions:

  • 265g water (or milk) – 1.125 cups
  • 11g sodium citrate
  • 285g cheese (e.g. white cheddar) – this is 4 cups

This is the proportion recommended in the Modernist at Home cookbook. Also you need to add the cheese slowly and blend each new handful in. Preferably with an immersion blender.

I have used the ModernistCuisine mac&cheese with sodium citrate, once. For the small amount you were making I think the amounts would be 1/2 c. liquid, 1/2 t. sodium citrate and 4 oz/1 cup cheese.

Calumin, thanks I’ll try that recipe next and I didn’t add the cheese slowly, just dumped it in. And def used the wrong size pot as it wasn’t really deep enough for the immersion blender.

I have done the sauce too with the sodium citrate. I found that as long as I added the cheese slowly, I didn’t have to use the immersion blender.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
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