Anyone who has purchased a box of macaroni and cheese might have noticed a couple of things. First, the price is quite high for what you get. Second, the only thing remotely special is that the box contains a packet of dehydrated powdered cheese. I prefer being frugal and saving money, so I make my own dehydrated powdered cheese.
This is also great for cheese storage when you find yourself with too much cheese. (Is there such a thing as too much cheese?) At any rate, the dehydrated powdered cheese is wonderful for making your own macaroni and cheese. It is also superb when mixed in with hamburger, for instance, if you are cooking hamburgers and like cheese with your hamburgers. Additionally, the powdered cheese lasts a long time and it doesn’t contain extra ingredients as preservatives or to keep it from caking up, and since the moisture has been removed, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Making the powdered cheese is pure simplicity, too, though it does take some time. To do it, just slice the cheese as thin as you can easily slice it. Put the cheese in a food dehydrator or a very slow oven so the cheese slices aren’t touching. You don’t want it to get hot enough to melt, you simply want it to dry. The drying time will vary depending on the kind of cheese and the thickness of the slices.
Every hour or two during the drying time, turn the cheese over so it is evenly exposed to drying. If you notice oils or moisture on the cheese when you turn it over, blot the cheese with a paper towel.
When the cheese is dried, it should be totally hard and brittle, with no soft spots. It will often also look darker than the original cheese did.
Once the cheese is dried, let it cool down for a half-hour or so, until it is at room temperature. Then simply use a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to grind the cheese into a powder. This can be stored in an air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid.
The dehydrated cheese powder can be used to flavor many meals. If you want to make macaroni and cheese like the version that comes out of a box mix, this is simple, too. Just put a cup of dried macaroni in a quart of boiling water. Boil it for 8-10 minutes, until it is tender. Drain the water, then add 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup of the dehydrated cheese powder. Stir it all together well, and you have macaroni and cheese.
The cheese powder can be used in so many ways that it is fantastic. I like adding this powder to meatloaf, to give the meatloaf a cheesy flavor. It is also great when heated with milk and a little flour to make a cheese sauce that is wonderful over steamed cauliflower or broccoli. Did I mention that this is also wonderful to take out camping?