Near-food products

Sure, pizza’s a vegetable. After all, the cheese you put on top might be. What? What?

Last week I was cooking for a bunch of kids. So, pizza. In the process of emptying the fridge of bags of shredded cheese for the pizzas, I came across a bag of Price Chopper “Low fat” shredded mozzarella. I blame Katya, by the way, for the existence of the bag in our fridge. I tend to buy food and she tends to buy the low-fat, imitation-flavored, near-food products. But back to our tale …

I was using up the cheesy scraps ahead of a grocery shop, so I threw this, this … stuff on the pizzas, put them in the oven at 425 with the convection on and waited for it to melt.

After a while, I peeked into the oven and the cheese still hadn’t melted. Odd. The oven seemed to be working. Finally, I pulled the pizzas out and the crust was cooked (almost dried out, it had been so long), but the cheese was still in its original shape, now brittle instead of melted. The pizzas were, well, dreadful. Edible, but just. The kids were pulling the cheese off and throwing it away because it was so crunchy.

I went back and checked the bag. Did you know that low-fat, shredded mozzarella has a large component of potato starch? The ingredients listed were skim milk, milk solids and potato starch. Turns out there’s a whole industry involved in making shredded-cheese-like products. Apparently somebody used the “low melt” fabrication instead of the “medium” or “high melt” versions.

Sargento also keeps our friends at Omya busy, including calcium carbonate in their near-food:

Calcium carbonate and potato starch are also natural ingredients. They pass through your body as any food does.

And here I thought shredded cheese was, you know, cheese … that had been shredded.

2 comments

  1. Yeah, shredded cheese that is just shredded cheese tends to clump, so they add that crap to keep it from doing so. Thus, I shred cheese in the food processor. Takes very little time, and is less expensive also. And no starch, or other questionable additives.

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  2. Furthermore, there are plenty of “natural” substances that I would prefer not to eat, whether or not they’d safely pass through my digestive system. Dirt comes to mind.

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