A blend of aged and unripened cheeses (often Cheddar, Swiss and Brick.) Producers like Processed Cheese because it means they can use up some cheese before it is ripened, which saves them costs. The cheeses are ground, stabilized with emulsifiers, then pasteurized and packaged. Salt and preservatives are also added to preserve the shelf life, because while pasteurization will prevent further aging, it doesn’t kill all bacteria.
To make Processed Cheese spread, more moisture and stabilizers are added.
In America, 75% of all cheese sold is Processed Cheese (as of 2004.)
Even many Foodies will grudgingly admit that “real” cheese doesn’t melt as nicely on top of hamburger patties on the barbeque as do Processed Cheese slices.
The process was invented by the Swiss in 1911. J.L. Kraft began selling it as slices in 1917 in America.
Literature & Lore
When I was 11, I remember tipping some processed cheese slices individually wrapped in plastic off the top of the fridge so that they fell in behind. Pretty dumb move, but give me credit for being smart enough not to say anything. Mum and Dad were good housekeepers, but I gotta admit that fridge didn’t get moved too often. It was next moved when I was 16. She found the cheese slices. In five years, the cheese slices hadn’t changed. And the Health Police tell us unpasteurized cheese isn’t safe?