The American cheese is most known for its salty addition to many fast-food aspects of American life. Perfect when paired with a turkey or ham sandwich, American cheese was first made in the pilgrim era, when settlers brought recipes such as cheddar from England for home use. As American cheese evolved, we saw two distinct types saturate the market, being yellow and white American cheese.
Yellow and white American cheese are different in many aspects, including fat content, texture, flavor, sodium content, and how they are made.
One of the main nutritional differences between yellow and white American cheese is the nutritional differences. Yellow cheese takes the cake in fat content, salt content, and a bolder flavor. Although it isn’t necessarily bad for you, it can create a significant nutritional difference if eaten on a regular basis.
White American cheese, on the other hand, has a much more mild flavor with a lower fat content and salt content. However, the texture is similar to yellow cheese, but white cheese does tend to dry out and become crumblier due to the lower fat content all around.
These nutritional properties both hold up when they are cooked into dishes.
How Fat Content Affects Your Cooking
The way that cheese melts and cooks is entirely dependent on the cheese itself. Cheese varies widely in the amount of fat content, with the highest being cheddar and the lowest being American cheese. What this means in terms of flavor is that the flavor would be more pungent and natural in cheeses with high fat contents.
Cheddar is the perfect example of such. Cheddar has a very natural and very pungent flavor that makes It a staple of many dishes. This flavor is so strong and retainable over time due to the high fat content of the cheese itself. The cheese is also notably creamier than other cheese with strong flavors, such as feta.
American cheese, on the other hand, also has a strong flavor. But consider that this flavor tastes significantly more artificial than that other cheddar. American cheese varies in flavor, but yellow American cheese has been noted by multiple professionals to be “slightly plasticky” and very salty. While American cheese is still scrumptious, the lack of fat content makes it necessary for other flavors to be added so that you’re not off put by the plastic texture.
The biggest flavor difference that we see between yellow and white American cheese is the prevalence of different flavors. The flavor of these cheeses definitely give us an insight into the making and the interference of artificial flavors, as yellow cheese tends to vary widely from brand to brand.
This is very easy to tell due to the sharper nature of yellow American cheese. The pungent flavor makes it extremely easy for people to tell the difference between the making of the cheese across companies. White cheese, on the other hand, doesn’t hold as much flavor and makes it hard to tell the difference between many companies.
This also gives us an insight into the making of this cheese by the companies. With such a wide variation between cheeses, we can assume there is a variable that is entirely optional that keeps the component of the cheese while significantly affecting the flavor. This indicates the presence of artificial flavors, which isn’t necessarily surprising for American cheese.
White cheese doesn’t seem to have as many artificial flavors, despite the potential for them. It could be significantly more costly to put flavors into drier and crumbly cheeses, forcing them to rely on their natural flavors.
Differences in the Production of Cheeses
The differences in yellow and white cheese relies deeply on a few differences in the cheesemaking process. Specifically, in yellow cheese, they actually skip a step that turns the cheese into the spectacular yellow color that we are all used to today.
When making white cheese, milk is treated with a sour component called citric acid before it is drained and eventually curdled, which is why it is a whiter color. Then, a coagulant called calcium chloride turns the milk a slightly yellow color, before it is color treated.
When making yellow cheese, you follow the same steps as white until they strain out the excess whey, which is normal in the cheesemaking world. Yellow cheese actually includes draining extra liquid out of the curds.
This means that the whey that is drained out of the yellow cheese gives it a distinct yellow color that we now associate with American cheese. This also makes the yellow cheese significantly saltier than its white counterpart, even without the extra additives and higher fat content.
What Cheeses Should I Use for Which Food?
Yellow cheese is going to be better for adding to proteins, think of hot dogs, steaks, meatloaf, burgers, and more American staples with savory flavors. The saltiness of the yellow cheese complements the savory flavor of the protein.
White cheese, on the other hand, is commonly used for lasagna, grilled cheeses, and occasionally burgers and hot dogs. This is probably because the milder flavor of the white cheese pairs better with carbs and tends to hold its shape better than yellow cheese due to fat content.
Are The Cheeses Interchangeable?
Only somewhat. White cheese can make an excellent exchange for yellow cheese, but yellow cheese has not been known to give the same quality exchange to white cheese. The creaminess is similar enough to put on hotdogs and burgers without overpowering them. However, using yellow cheese in a lasagna will be extremely disappointing and overwhelming.
Which American Cheese Is Healthier?
White cheese is notably healthier than its yellow counterpart due to its lower fat content and sodium content.
What Spices Go with Which Cheeses?
In general, steer away from spices on yellow cheeses. The strong flavor will become overwhelming in the presence of other spices. But white cheese goes amazingly with garlic, which has why it has become a staple of Americanized Italian food.