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Cheese Fondue Troubleshooting

April 20, 2010

Heating Cheese Fondue

Cheese fondue needs to be kept below the boiling point but above the melting point.  It is best to warm the cheese fondue pot on a stove then transfer it to the tabletop heat source to keep it warm.  As you slowly add your cheese mixture into the wine mixture, be sure to stir slowly in a zig zag pattern and prevent the cheese from boiling.  You only need the pot hot enough to melt the cheese, not boil it.   Once you have the cheese at the desired consistancy, transfer it to the table. 

Most cheese fondues should be served at 120 degrees to properly melt the cheese while preventing it from burning.  Ideally you want to keep it warm on the lowest temperature possible to avoid scorching the cheese.  Alcohol burners with fondue fuel gel is ideal for this purpose when using a thick based ceramic pot.  You may also opt to use an electric pot or even a small crock pot set on a very low temperature.

TIP:  If pre-heating on a stove, a double broiler is a great way to prevent the cheese on the bottom from scorching.

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Is Your Cheese Too Thick, or Too Thin?

If your cheese fondue gets too thick, increase the heat slightly and add a splash of dry white wine or a squeeze of lemon juice.  If it is too thin, decrease your heat slightly and add more shredded cheese tossed with cornstarch to your mixture.  Avoid adding water to thin your fondue since it changes the consistancy.

Is Your Cheese Mixture Separating?

The purpose of cornstarch is to keep the cheese in suspension and prevent the cheese and wine from seperating.   If you see your cheese mixture separating, then add small amounts of cornstarch and stir.

Is Your Cheese Stringy?

One of the most important factors in getting a smooth cheese fondue is the quality of your cheese.  Processed cheese will be unstable and inconsistant.  Be sure to use a good Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese since they were made to melt properly.  If you are still struggling with your cheese, here is a helpful tip.  Be sure to keep your heat low and consistant.  Sudden changes in temperature will cause the cheese to ball up or become stringy.

How to Multiply Your Recipe

When doubling or tripling your recipe there is not as much surface area to allow for evaporation of your liquids, so be careful not to double everything.  For doubling try this:  Multiply your wine by 2, then subtract 1/4 to 1/3.  For triple, multiply your wine by 3, then subtract 1/3 to 1/2.  You can always add more if needed.

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