The best way to make powdered cheese is to use a food dehydrator and then a food processor to create the desired texture. If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can also use the microwave method by spreading a layer of cheese on a plate, microwaving it, and letting it cool before processing.
In the following sections, I’ll take you through two of the most efficient approaches to making powdered cheese. Then, I’ll discuss what cheeses you should and shouldn’t use for this culinary endeavor.
How To Make Powdered Cheese at Home
To make powdered cheese at home, you can either use a food dehydrator and then a food processor, or you can use your microwave to turn the cheese into a crisp and then a food processor.
The first method, using the dehydrator, has the highest success and accuracy rate when making powdered cheese. However, given that not many home cooks have a dehydrator on hand, using a microwave is an acceptable substitution.
However, food dehydrators provide a wide range of functions, so if you have the extra money to spend, you might want to consider investing in one.
The Dehydrator Method
If you want to process cheese using this approach, you’ll need a food dehydrator, a cheese shredded, and a sharp knife.
Then, you’ll want to do the following:
- Thinly slice the cheese.
- Add cheese to dehydrator trays.
- Let dry for several hours.
- Once crisp, let cool.
- Process in the food processor.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
There are a few ways to make each of these steps easier on you, so I’ll break them down one by one.
1. Thinly Slice the Cheese
When you slice your cheese, it’s essential to ensure the wedges are as thin as possible. Big chunks of cheese take longer to dehydrate and won’t process as nearly as efficiently. Ideally, you’ll want to make the cheese slices so thin that they’re almost transparent.
If you’re starting with shredded cheese, that’s okay too. Just make sure that you only add a single layer at a time to your dehydrator in the following step. This might seem like overkill, but it will ultimately make the dehydration process much quicker and easier for you.
2. Add Cheese to Dehydrator Trays
Now it’s time to break out the dehydrator. It should have instructions on the ideal temperature and time for most processes; however, if it doesn’t provide specific directions regarding cheese, check out this video:
All food dehydrators work differently, so you must follow the instructions and keep a watchful eye.
If you are using a softer cheese variety, like cottage or burrata, you may want to add some wax paper to the tray you’re using and spread it out in the thinnest layer possible. Big dollops of cottage cheese will take hours to dry out.
3. Let Dry for Several Hours
The cheese will likely still come out of the dehydrator rather greasy, especially if you’re using a fattier variety or a block of shredded cheese. Shredded cheese often contains a chemical, which is added to it to keep it from sticking together (which is why cheese gets so clumpy if you shred it yourself), so you’ll want to be sure and pat it down halfway through. Sometimes, it can help to flip the cheese as the grease pools under it.
4. Once Crisp, Let Cool
Allowing the cheese to cool is an essential step in this process. When you’re too impatient and start processing the cheese right away, the condensation liquefies it, defeating the entire point of the process. Let the cheese cool down on the counter, not in the moist fridge or freezer, and wait patiently before continuing to the final step.
5. Process in the Food Processor
Once the cheese has completely hardened, and cooled down and there’s no excess liquid, you can add it to your food processor. Pulse in 2-3 second increments to ensure you don’t over-process it and turn it into a paste. Make sure to check on the consistency once every two to three pulses to ensure you’ll be getting the results you’ve worked so hard for.
6. Store in an Airtight Container in a Cool, Dry Place
To store your powdered cheese, put it in an airtight jar or can and keep it in a cool, dry place like the pantry. You can also store it in the fridge if you want to make it last longer; just be sure that there is no way for any moisture to get inside the airtight container.
Manufactured powdered cheese will last years on the shelf; however, because you’ve made this batch yourself, be more cautious and wary of signs of it going bad.
The Microwave Method
The microwave method works if you don’t have a food dehydrator; however, the end product won’t come out as powdery. You won’t likely get very far with soft or liquid cheeses. Using hard cheeses or shredded varieties is your best bet with this approach.
To make powdered cheese using a microwave, here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Spread a thin layer of shredded or thinly sliced cheese on a microwave-safe plate.
- Microwave in 30-second intervals.
- Remove excess grease.
- Let sit and cool.
- Add to a food processor.
This method can be tricky, so let’s get into more detail.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese. First, you’ll want to find a microwave-safe plate that can handle being heated up for some time. Alternatively, if you’d like, you can use a baking sheet and the oven. You’ll need to spread a single layer of shredded or thinly sliced cheese on the plate. The oven will take more time but doesn’t change the results by much, you’ll just have to keep checking to make sure your cheese isn’t burning.
- Microwave in thirty-second intervals. Start with just 30 seconds at a time, and keep checking on your cheese. It will become one big crisp (which is often used in Keto diets as crackers or taco shells). Once it’s crisped up, you can stop microwaving.
- Remove all excess grease. The microwave method produces tons of excess grease, and it’ll still come out this way in the oven. Make sure to pat down the cheese thoroughly before moving on. Any excess grease will cause the substance to become creamy when processed instead of powdery. You need it to be as dry as possible.
- Let sit and cool. Then, you’ll want to let the cheese cool once it’s completely dry. Don’t put it in the fridge or freezer, as doing so might expose it to excess moisture. Instead, put it on the counter. It should be completely cooled down before you move on. Otherwise, the process won’t work.
- Add to the food processor. Now, you’ll need to break up your cheese crisp and add it to the food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds at a time, stopping when you get the perfect consistency of cheese powder. If you over-pulse, the cheese will likely turn into a cream.
- Storing your microwaved powdered cheese. Store your microwaved powdered cheese in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. Unlike the dehydrator method, this approach doesn’t rid the cheese of all excess moisture (though there’ll be a lot less than when you started), which means the cheese can go bad sitting on the counter. You can store your microwaved powder cheese for as long as you’d typically store cheese.
What Types of Cheese to Avoid When Making Powdered Cheese in the Microwave?
When making powdered cheese in a microwave, it’s best to avoid soft varieties like cottage or ricotta. These options can’t be dehydrated enough using a microwave to achieve a powder consistency.
However, if you’re using soft cheese varieties like feta or brie, you may still be able to powder them using the microwave method as long as you shred them first.
Whether you go the microwave or the dehydrator route, you’ll need a good food processor, cheese shredder, or sharp knife.
If making powdered cheese is something you’re planning on doing more than once, you might want to consider getting a dehydrator.
Dehydrators help with homesteading efforts, can prevent waste, and help you process foods like dried fruit, jerky, and powdered cheese from the comfort of your own home.
You may also be interested in my article called How to Make Homemade Milk Powder | 3 Easy Methods.
What Is the Shelf Life of Powdered Cheese?
The shelf life of powdered cheese is around 10-15 years when sealed and 12 months when opened if you buy the manufactured kind. If you make your own powdered cheese, its shelf life can vary anywhere from a few months to a couple of years, depending on how you made it.
As you might already know, dehydrated foods will last longer on the shelf, which is what makes dehydrators so appealing to survivalists, farmers, and bargain hunters.
However, if you opt for the microwave method I previously explained, your cheese likely won’t last as long. The food has been melted rather than dehydrated, meaning it should last as long as regular melted cheese would.
How To Know When Powdered Cheese Has Gone Bad
You’ll know it’s time to throw out your powdered cheese if one of the following has occurred:
- Molding of any kind.
- Change in appearance or coloration.
- Development of an off scent.
- Development of an off-flavor.
Again, this is far more likely to occur sooner in your microwaved cheese powder than in your dehydrated cheese powder, so be exceptionally more observant if this is the method you chose.
You want to store your powder in a cool, dry place. Additionally, consider storing cheese powder in the fridge placed inside an airtight charge to ensure it doesn’t get exposed to moisture or air. Moisture can aid mold development while air speeds up the oxidation process.
As for store-bought powdered cheese, you should always mark down the date you open it. The expiration date will tell you how long the shelf-life is, but it has no way of knowing when you’ll remove the airtight packaging. Write down the date you’ve opened your packaging and count on throwing it out anywhere from six months to a year after it.
What Type of Cheese Should I Use To Make Powdered Cheese?
You can use cheddar, swiss, parmesan, or any other similar variety to make powdered cheese. Even soft cheeses like brie or cottage cheese will work well, they’ll just require a little additional work.
However, if you’re using the microwave or oven approaches from above, not all of these cheeses will work. You’ll need to experiment and ultimately decide if your tools have the power to make soft cheeses solid.
Some soft cheeses like brie, burrata, feta, and goat cheese may work if you can find a shredded or shaved version first; however, cheeses that are more liquidy, like ricotta and cottage, won’t work in the microwave.
In the microwave or oven, you’ll be best served using any combination of the following hard cheeses:
- Colby jack
If you’re still pressed on using some of the softer variations, even in the microwave, read below.
Working With Soft Cheeses
When you work with a block of soft or even liquidy cheese, you’re going to have to upgrade your cooking method. If you’re using a dehydrator, you may need to dehydrate the cheese for longer and be intentional about how you spread it out.
If you’re using the microwave approach, it can still work, but, as mentioned, not with liquid cheeses like cottage or ricotta. The hotter you get these cheeses, the more they just curdle and boil, and they may never become fully crisp.
- How to Make Powdered Peanut Butter | A Quick Guide.
- How to Make Homemade Milk Powder | 3 Easy Methods
- What Foods Can Be Sun-Dried? (And Which Can’t)
You can either use a food dehydrator or a microwave to make powdered cheese, but either way, you will need a food processor or a blender with a process set. Using a regular blender might re-liquify your cheese, especially if you end up opting for the microwave method.
Most home cooks succeed in creating powdered cheese out of cheddar, swiss, and parmesan, as their hard texture facilitates the process. You should avoid attempting to powder brie, mozzarella, and cottage cheese unless you’re ready to do some extra work.
For more, don’t miss Does Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated? | It Depends.
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