Published April 1, 2005. From Cook's Country.
We were surprised when we found low-fat cheddar cheeses worth eating.
Here in the test kitchen, we normally turn our noses up at any cheese labeled nonfat, low-fat, reduced fat, or light. But in developing lighter recipes for our magazines and books, we realized we were going to have to give them an honest try. We rounded up all the products available to us to determine if there was a significant difference between them. Fat content ranged from fat-free to 75 percent light, 50 percent light, and 2 percent reduced fat. In addition, the cheeses were available pre-shredded, pre-sliced, and in blocks.
We tasted all of these options on their own with crackers and in batches of our Everyday Macaroni and Cheese. Tasters unanimously agreed that the pre-shredded and pre-sliced cheeses were out, along with the fat-free cheese, which was rubbery and overly sweet. The 2 percent reduced-fat cheese gained high marks, but at 6 grams of fat per 1-ounce serving, it was unfortunately still a little high in fat for our purposes. The 75 percent light cheddar (only 2.5 grams of fat per serving) produced mac and cheese that was grainy with a bitter aftertaste.
The 50 percent light cheddar, on the other hand, worked well. With just 4.5 grams of fat and 70 calories per ounce (as well as no unpronounceable ingredients) we were happy. Though it doesn’t quite stack up against fine aged cheddar when eaten on a cracker, tasters liked the creaminess and cheesy flavor that it lent to our mac and cheese.