Cheese please!
March 21, 2013 6:47 PM   Subscribe

I LOVE the powdered cheese of mac 'n cheese. I don't need the whole box, and I know how to make tasty homemade mac 'n cheese. I just want to duplicate the powdered cheese with real home ingredients. Imitation Annie's, if you will.

I have dry milk already. I am guessing this would be a key ingredient? I also have annatto. Educated guesses are welcome to apply. Please and thank you!
posted by aniola to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I think they sell a similar product for sprinkling on popcorn.
posted by milk white peacock at 6:50 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

They do, and here it is. The ingredient list could be helpful for making your own (dry buttermilk, who knew?)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:56 PM on March 21, 2013

I can't find it on their website, but here is a link that shows it. It *used* to be in a container that looked just like their Parmesan cheese, but orange colored.

Another option would be to check out Wal-Mart's house brand of mac-n-cheese. It's like 59 cents a box and the cheese is possibly better than even Kraft. The macaroni in the box is pretty terrible, so you don't have to feel bad about discarding it.

But as for doing it at home, it's probably mostly salt, butter/cheese flavor and sugar. The annatto is for coloring if I remember correctly.
posted by gjc at 7:00 PM on March 21, 2013

Response by poster: Annatto is mostly for coloring but I have tried the Annie's with and without and there is some taste to it.

The ingredients are cheese, whey, milk, cream, salt, sodium phosphate, annatto. What is sodium phosphate (is it necessary) and how do I turn those ingredients into a powder / that amazing flavor? I assume that in addition to the salts, it has something to do with desiccation changing the flavor?
posted by aniola at 7:09 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: Sodium phosphate is a preservative. As long as you don't want to store it forever, you could probably do without it.
posted by Sucht at 7:11 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: Powdered unflavored whey is a thing you can buy--check health food stores.
posted by padraigin at 7:13 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: this is the most boring video (I couldn't find an article that didn't use a dehydrator) ever made about drying cheese:

but would give you the "cheese" part of that ingredient list.
posted by euphoria066 at 7:27 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: Personally, I would process my own cheese (Googling will get you a variety of ways to do this, even more now that the 'modernist cuisine' movement is gaining popularity), stick this cheese into a dehydrator (again, search for various bits of advice on doing this), and grind up the result into a powder. I would experiment with adding the other things -- powdered milk, sure; whey couldn't hurt, and did you know "preppers" buy dehydrated butter, which means cans of dehydrated butter are for sale on Amazon? Loads of ways to approach this!
posted by kmennie at 7:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the product you're after, as sold at Bulk Barn in Canada. There's an ingredients list which might help!
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:38 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also here, another brand with an ingredient list.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:51 PM on March 21, 2013

Best answer: Instructions here.

Making your own powdered cheese.

More directions here.

You could also just make a bachamel sauce and mix in some powdered cheese (or even regular cheese) to make a really saucy mac and cheese.
posted by empath at 8:05 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow. I have been eating it for years, I read ingredient labels, and it still hadn't really occurred to me that things like cheese, butter, cream, milk, and whey could be dehydrated. I even HAVE dried milk! Looks like I have some new experiments for the kitchen! Thanks again, y'all!

and once the mystery is fully gone I will probably just have an easier time appreciating regular mac 'n cheese as much easier and good enough!
posted by aniola at 9:33 PM on March 21, 2013

Annatto is a natural dye that produces that intense orange colour. It has a slight flavour (which you could simulate with nutmeg or allspice perhaps), but doesn't add much beyond colour. It's widely used in cheeses: it's the origin of "cheddar" colour.

Some people can have alergic reactions to it, but it's a pretty safe additive. It has no nutritional value.

If you leave it out, you get the "white cheddar" cheese powder.
posted by bonehead at 6:40 AM on March 22, 2013

I think empath has a great idea along the lines of bechamel. That stuff freezes really well, so if you're interested in DIY instant stovetop mac and cheese, rather than a strict recreation of Annie's, you could make and freeze pre-portioned mixtures of bechamel and shredded cheese (in plastic bags, maybe) and then just melt them in the microwave and add them to your macaroni once it cooks.

I may do this this weekend, in fact.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:52 AM on March 22, 2013

Best answer: I make a similar thing for popcorn. It's just dried buttermilk, powdered cheddar cheese (bulk at our coop) and powdered salt. You could add a modest amount of cornstarch and maybe some dry milk.
posted by werkzeuger at 11:15 AM on March 22, 2013

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