On Cheesy Street
A more stable and convenient form of cheese and butter is available to food processors in Chunkettes™, from Commercial Creamery Co., Spokane, Wash. The ingredient line is made with real cheeses and real butter, and is shelf stable. The cheese comes in the form of small cubes that are “pourable,” for convenient handling. This eliminates the work of having to cut cheese into chunks at the processor's plant.
“The shelf-stable aspect is one of the biggest advantages,” says Megan Boell, vice president, sales and marketing, Commercial Creamery Co. “It's easy to handle when incorporating into food. Cheese is messy and has to be cut up. Chunkettes are coated so they won't clump together, and they can be poured or scooped.”
Varieties include blue cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, feta and butter. However, additional cheese types can be made into Chunkettes. Also, other ingredients such as herbs, spices and flavors can be incorporated into them to produce ethnic varieties for customized ingredients. For example, ranch, nacho and white cheddar varieties currently are available.
Feeling BlueBlue cheese chunks were developed to address the problems of manufacturers of salad dressings with natural blue cheese. During production, the soft cheese pieces were reduced in size, and they continued to dissolve into the other ingredients during product storage. Their shelf-life was limited because the mold and enzymes used to develop the cheese flavor continued to evolve in the bottled dressing, causing flavor changes. Sometimes, enzymatic activity caused the lids to pop off during storage.
The company subjects the cheese in Chunkettes to heat treatment, which inactivates the mold and enzymes. The cheese is supplied in cubes from 1/8” x 1/8” to 1/2” x 1/2”. The cubes are coated so that they do not stick together for easy handling, and they retain their piece identity in a dressing. Their moisture level is low, at a maximum of 4.1%, and their fat level is lower than cheese, qualifying them for reduced fat food applications.
Popular ApplicationsSalad dressings and dips are the most popular uses for the cheese chunks. They also can form the basis of a cheese sauce; it is like adding grated cheese to a dish that melts when heated. They can be sprinkled on a side dish or entrée for an au gratin topping, or they can form melted cheese inclusions in a food. Examples are scalloped potatoes or potatoes au gratin. Additionally, they can be melted into mashed potatoes or grits. For added interest in baked goods, they can be mixed into the batter and baked. They retain their piece identity and are revealed as soft pieces of cheese when a cheddar cheese biscuit is broken open.
The new butter flavor chunks are packaged with frozen vegetables or other foods, and when the food is heated, they melt and become the sauce. The butter chunks can be packaged right in the container with the vegetables, or included in a sauce packet. For extra flavoring, ingredients such as dill, parsley or other herbs and spices can be added.