High temperature cheeses are cheeses that have such high melting points they don't melt at cooking temperatures. Whether grilled, fried, roasted, broiled or baked, they only soften and never lose their shape or liquefy. Depending on the type of cheese, this textural tenacity may be due to very high acid or whey protein content or an extremely high level of salt.
Most commonly found in lasagna, ricotta is made from fresh sheep's milk cheese derived from the curd of Pecorino-Romano, an Italian hard cheese comparable to Parmigiano-Reggiano. It has a barely salted mild flavor and a slight tanginess from being fermented between 12 and 24 hours. It not only holds its texture in casseroles such as lasagna, but ricotta can also be baked or fried without melting.
Feta is commonly made in Mediterranean regions, particularly Greece. Its salty, tart flavor and coarse texture make it a popular salad topping. It's also used for skhara where it's topped with tomatoes, coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil and fresh oregano, enclosed in a grape leaf and roasted or grilled until hot and supple.
This cheese also has Mediterranean origins. Halloumi is customarily made from sheep's and goat's milk, so it has a high protein content. Like feta, it makes a good salad topping but is also tasty when sauteed or grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Some halloumi has a faint minty taste that comes from being preserved and stored wrapped in fresh mint leaves.
Many types of fresh cheeses fall into the high temperature category, usually based on the high proportion of salt in the ingredients that serves as a preservative. Numerous types of goat cheese, also called chevre, are high-temperature and won't melt when used as pizza or sandwich toppings, or even deep-fried. Queso fresco, a salty Mexican fresh cheese, has a creamy soft consistency but holds up well to high heat. Indian paneer, which originated in South Asia, has a lot of acid, making it heat-resistant.
Sausage makers often include cheese in their products to add taste and texture. Regular cheese melts too easily and adversely affects the sausage consistency. High temperature cheddar, hot pepper and mozzarella cheese specially made for sausages are sold in 1/4 inch cubes and resist melting even under typical smokehouse temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.