Ever wondered what happens to cheese when placed in water, and whether or not it disappears and dissolves completely? In this article, we look at whether or not cheese will dissolve in water.
Does Cheese Dissolve in Water?
Cheese will not dissolve in water. This is due to the combination of proteins and water molecules in the cheese. If the cheese has a high salt content or washed in a brine solution, it is more likely to float on water, rather than dissolve. It is common for fresh cheese with a higher water content to separate when placed in water, in comparison to harder cheeses which are denser and have lower water content. To change a cheese from a solid to a liquid state, the cheese is heated and therefore melts.
Factors that cause Cheese to Melt:
The proteins in fresh and soft cheese are more loosely packed together, therefore there is more water between the molecules. In contrast to hard cheese, there are fewer water molecules, causing the cheese to become drier.
This means that hard cheeses require a higher temperature for melting, and may even need liquid added to the process to ensure the cheese melts smoothly and does not become lumpy and grainy.
When fresh soft cheese is heated, the excess moisture is expelled. This causes the proteins to become more tightly packed together. Therefore there is not enough moisture left to help the cheese melt.
Other factors that affect the way cheese melts is age. Cheese contains casein molecules, which are large and stretchy when the cheese is young and helps it to melt easily. As the cheese begins to age and dry out, other enzymes present attack the casein molecules and break them down, which causes the cheese to flow more smoothly.
Another factor that affects the way cheese melts is the acidity levels. Cheese that has had acid added during the cheese-making process (common with fresh cheese) will melt very slightly, if at all. This is because the acid causes a breakdown in the proteins that bind the cheese together.
To summarise, cheese is very unlikely to dissolve in water. Cheese may separate if it is fresh, or even float if it has a high salt content. The best way to liquefy cheese is by heating and melting it.