The Science of the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Alright folks, today we’re talking the dos and don’ts of one of the world’s best
foods, the grilled cheese sandwich. And yes, we’ve got the science to back it up. There are so, so many different types of cheese out there, but there’s one type you want when it comes to grilled cheese – the kind that’s nice and stretchy. So then how does chemistry get you that
perfect stretchy, gooey grilled cheese? (Reactions SPLASH INTRO!) Time for a primer on cheese. The first step of cheesemaking is to form curds out of milk. Milk is 90% water, plus a mix of casein and whey proteins, lactose, calcium, and fats. Casein proteins float around in milk in tiny molecular clumps called micelles that refuse to stick together because they have same charge on the outside. These micelles hold around 2/3rds of the calcium in milk, and believe it or not, calcium is the key to
the perfect grilled cheese. To form curds, bacteria and enzymes are added to milk to make it coagulate, or go from a liquid to a solid or semisolid state. The bacteria converts lactose into lactic acid to drop the pH, which eliminates the charge of the casein micelles
to help them stick together. Enzymes called rennet are used to speed the process up. Once the curds are formed, the whey and excess moisture is drained, and the little clumps can then be heated, bathed in salt water, and pressed together to meet the specifications of different types of cheese. Once pressed, the cheese is left to age from days to years depending on the style. The longer the cheese sits, the more lactose is converted into lactic
acid, and the lower the pH. The lower the pH, the “sharper” the cheese. Remember that folks, because with grilled cheese, that pH level has a huge effect on the calcium found inside, and in
turn, the texture when heated. If protein is the structural backbone of cheese, than calcium is the rebar that reinforces the backbone. It’s what grips all of the casein molecules together to form the micelles. Melty, stretchy cheeses have casein proteins that can break away and go with the flow and what that takes is a lower pH which lets the calcium ditch its job of holding all the casein together. That means more proteins break out of their cages to interact with the fats and moisture in the cheese,
to make everything flow together as one big, lovely, gooey mess. But if the pH is too low the cheese will release all of its oils when heated, leaving a curdly, clumpy disaster. The secret to getting the perfect cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich is to find one with the right pH to perfectly balance out the calcium and protein structure. Cheeses with a pH range between 5.3 and 5.5 are right on the money, and here’s a handful of perfect examples. Here’s a Reactions Grilled Cheese Pro tip: If you’re in the cheese aisle confused about all the different types of cheddar, go with the mild one, it’s gonna have the texture you’re looking for, unlike its broken down, sharp older siblings. Oh and what about those perfect yellow squares of processed “American” cheese? This type of cheese is made by melting together two or more different cheeses like colby and cheddar, and adding an emulsifier such as sodium or potassium phosphate, which limits the amount of calcium holding everything together, all the while increasing the pH, sometimes up to 5.8. This makes for a highly meltable cheese product with an exceptionally mild flavor. Okay folks, so now you get the picture, so get the darn cheese already. If any of you out there have any food related questions, post them down in the comments for us but if you’re hungry for more food chem, check out this video on the chemistry of pizza. Today’s episode was inspired by an absolutely amazing book called the kitchen as laboratory, check out the first chapter by Jennifer Kimmel, The chemistry of a grilled cheese sandwich. A link’s down in the description, get yourself a copy! Thumbs up, subscribe, we’ll see you again soon.

82 Comments

  1. QNCd first commentary . congratulation your videos are amazing . we QNCders love all they

  2. Damn, now I'm hungry.

  3. Is the Ph listed on the packages for the cheese? Or how do you know the cheese's Ph?

  4. in short choose soft cheese? because the harder the cheese the lower the pH?

  5. How about the bread

  6. American cheese is the way to go

  7. Gouda cheese masterrace (because im dutch <3)

  8. You must try this!
    Sriracha sauce + natural peanut butter = maximum yummy

    You gotta eat it fresh tho as the Sriracha sauce when mixed with natural peanut butter if left overnight reacts and turns the peanut butter into an unpleasant mashed potato like texture.

    Anything I could add to it to prevent this weird reaction?
    If you could help me find a solution that would be great.

  9. Thank you for this good video!

  10. what the hell is cay-el-siyum yo?

  11. Andy Dwyer's bucket list

  12. heres what i heard "yata yata yata science science BIGGER and BIGTGER IS BETTER XD

  13. This channel's sound game is legendary 😀

  14. Love me some sharp cheddar

  15. whyyyyyyy

  16. rebar…your analogies are powerful and very relevant!
    I <3 you Reactions!

  17. curious how it all plays out when you start mixing different cheeses

  18. What is the difference between fast-release and slow-release protein?

  19. CYPRIOT HALLOUMI BITCHES!

  20. Great video, fascinating ideas. One problem.

    Your background music is too loud. For anyone with even very moderate hearing problems, (and perhaps even people with perfectly normal hearing) it's really hard to tell what you're saying.

    The top-secret key to fixing this is to record the sound track with the background music at a lower level.

    There. I've said it. I will now spend the rest of my days hunted to the ends of the earth by marauding sound mixers, waving machetes, and screaming something that I can almost make out over their background music.

  21. You need to change the title of this video to "How to Select the Best Cheese for a Grilled-Cheese Sandwich", because there are absolutely no instructions in this video as to how to MAKE a grilled-cheese sandwich. While all of the "cheese science" stuff is cool, this video gets me nowhere near a finished product. My personal "pro tip" for a perfect GCS is, use a cast-iron skillet, get it really hot and, instead of oiling/buttering the pan, butter the bread before placing on the skillet.

  22. Never was a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches but still an interesting video.

  23. 😕😑😓 YouTube

  24. If the cheese with lower Ph is sharper and low ph makes the cheese gooey why do you suggest mild cheese as opposed to sharper cheese

  25. chemistry behind chipotle burritos

  26. This was so stupid. So you just googled some info about cheese and quickly made a video? yeah great, the pH is "perfect" but that doesn't mean it tastes good. Who cares if it melts on your hands?? Flavor is the most important thing in food.. and you didn't talk about what bread or coming methods to use to get the best tasting grilled cheese.

  27. you talk way to fast… this was dumb anyways.

  28. science for perfect chili?

  29. yeah but who cut the cheese? i couldn't resist.

  30. When you tell someone you want a grill cheese then they tell you how to make a perfect grill cheese the your like I JUST WANT A DAMN GRILL CHEESE

  31. I thought they were gunna show us how to make a perfect grilled cheese lol

  32. no bread. this video sucks

  33. instructions unclear got dick stuck in sandwich.

  34. So that's the inside of the sandwich… but to complete the tasty crusty exterior you need to slather it in a pre-mixed concoction of butter + grated parmesan (not the fresh stuff, the crappy toe-jam stuff you can store on a shelf)! Nommmmm!

  35. Nope, I disagree. Extra sharp white cheddar is the best for a grilled cheese.

  36. And if you want the perfect mac and cheese, check out this chemistry-inspired recipe: http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/silky-smooth-macaroni-and-cheese
    The secret is the sodium citrate.

  37. I thought you were going to show us how to make a grilled cheese.

  38. woa good.. i like it .. i love it

  39. Shredded cheddar cheese with turkey is the best

  40. I ask that you make the perfect chicken and dumplings.

  41. Kraft singles and provolone on sourdough grilled cheese….you're welcome. The best I have ever had.

  42. oh stfu
    just make a guide on how to take a sht

  43. I've been making bomb azz grilled cheese since age 13. My friends would request them all the time, and now my Daughter won't let anyone else make them for her. Kraft singles or any single sliced cheese, butter the bread with a soft butter before grilling. Cook on medium heat or just a tad higher. Never on full, high heat though.

  44. what about the bread? how to get the perfect toast?

  45. When you buy cheese does it tell you the Ph levels of it? I've never looked so I wouldn't know but next time I will (:

  46. y some cheese stinks ? :/

  47. Picture at 2:15 is from Romania.

  48. haha, you call that a gruyère?

    Americans…

    www.gruyere.com/en

  49. Yuck. I wouldn't ever suggest the awful processed cheese squares that are popular in america :/

  50. in a picture showing cheese in the store (2:16), you are showing a romanian store with romanian cheese. is there a reason? or was it the first pic you found? thank you.

  51. Processed American cheese? Really?

  52. this is fucking stupid.

  53. Did you folks know that cancer cells grow on low PH acidic environments? While high PH kills them. Mixin the low PH cheese with other shit makes it more dangerous.

  54. BRB, making me a sandwich. It might not be perfect, but it will do the trick.

  55. Nice. Great channel. Take this sub, why don't cha! 🙂

  56. FUCK OFF

  57. Hah, go milder! Try go home you're drunk!

  58. sooooo fattening, sooooo yummmmmyy…

  59. This channel's producers have too much time on their hands

  60. slow down cowboy

  61. So those square processed cheese is better?

  62. I'm watching this video with the radio on that's in my house lisining to Somewon Like You never mind I'll find Somewon like you

  63. If you get a cheese which Ph level is lower or above "cheese melting point", putting something to balance the Ph in a level that it would melt (perhaps using lemon or baking soda) would work?

  64. guyer and white cheddar on sour dough with a bit of cottage cheese on the inside of both pieces of bread. Broil open face until the cheese starts to brown and then close the sandwich and cook each side up until the bread toasts. Of course with plenty of butter. Best "grilled cheese" imo

  65. Can you help me win the lotto

  66. The science for a perfect french toast

  67. Eh… I like muenster cheese

  68. Love the graphics! This video is stellar! I just subscribed. Glad I found you!

  69. Can i get a science to english translation?

  70. Cherry Glazerr – Grilled Cheese

  71. By accident I found out how to make great grilled cheese sandwiches (or maybe this is a patty melt – I get them confused).
    If you take a George Foreman grill or a cheap knockoff like the one I have, place a piece of bread on the grill, then your cheese, then another slice of bread, then some butter on top. I sometimes put some chopped onions under the cheese, but that's a personal preference thing.
    Let it cook for however long it takes to make faint lines on the bread, then flip the sandwich over and rotate it 90 degrees so the brown marks you are about to make on the bread cross the ones already there. Add a little real butter to the top part of the sandwich.
    I like to cook it until the cheese that melts out into the grill is a little crispy and the bread is a dark golden brown color, but not at all burnt.

  72. I always go with Colby Jack. Sometimes with onions, but then I guess it's no longer a grilled cheese sandwich.

  73. gruyere cheese is my favorite!

  74. 2:16 picture is from roumania :)))

  75. Stupidest video I've seen

  76. I'm disappointed you didn't talk about the science of cheese causing constipation. Don't eat more than two grilled cheese sandwiches a day people!

  77. I'm only thirty seconds in and the voice over is shit

  78. My perfect grilled cheese: wheat bread and my favorite American cheese on a griddle until golden brown (I like mine on the lighter side not too dark) and then I'm done! tip try doing different combinations of your favorite cheese! This makes it that much better!

  79. Great video!

  80. American cheese for grilled cheese all the fuckin way. The people who think different are the same morons who think the soap opera effect looks better and think it's how their movie is "supposed" to look.

  81. crap was hungry now I have homework.

  82. Excuse me miss… can you direct me to the cheese with the 5.3 PH balance ? What a F**** stupid video…

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