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Sodium Citrate

How to use sodium citrate
Sodium citrate is a common sequestrant which acts as a stabilizer and improves the quality of food.

Melted cheese is one of my favorite things on earth but some cheeses just do not melt well, limiting your options. With the addition of a little sodium citrate almost any cheese can be made into a smoothly melting cheese.

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What is Sodium Citrate Used For?Top

Sodium citrate is the ingredient in Velveeta cheese that makes it melt so well. You can make your own super-melty cheese sauces with the addition of sodium citrate. It's very easy to use; this process is so easy you'll never go back to making cheese sauces any other way! Just whisk it into a liquid then blend it in the cheese over heat and voila, smooth cheese sauce! It works with almost any type of cheese so use your imagination - the sky's the limit!

Shrimp and cheese queso sodium citrate

Sodium citrate reduces the cheese's acidity, makes the proteins in the cheese more soluble, and prevents it from separating into an undesirable consistency; instead creating a smooth, creamy texture that stays together. It allows these cheese sauces to be cooled and reheated, molded or cut for cheese slices, used as fondues and quesos, or added to macaroni and cheese.

Sodium citrate is also a common modernist cooking ingredient integrated into the spherification technique. It is often added to highly acidic liquids to help neutralize them and promote gelling. In addition it reduces the calcium content in other liquids which prevents early gelling.

Sodium citrate has a surprisingly large number of different uses given its relatively simple chemistry. In food production, it is used as an emulsifier, preservative and buffer. It is a key ingredient in common club soda beverages and prevents fat coalescence in ice cream.

Where to Buy Sodium Citrate?Top

We always recommend ModernistPantry.com, they have great service and are really good to work with (because of this, we do have an affiliate relationship with them).

What is Sodium Citrate?Top

Sodium citrate, also commonly known as sour salt, citric salt, or trisodium citrate, is a crystalline salt found naturally in citrus fruits. Produced from a chemical reaction during citric acid fermentation, these white crystals have a salty and slightly tart taste which is often used as a flavoring agent for various beverages such as juices, soda and energy drinks. In a cheese sauce, sodium citrate allows the proteins to become more soluble which creates a smooth emulsion without curdling.

How Do You Add Sodium Citrate To a Liquid?Top

Sodium citrate readily disperses and hydrates in any liquid temperature, however it dissolves quicker and easier when heated. A wire whisk is sufficient for mixing, but we find that an immersion blender greatly helps in emulsifying the cheese.

How Much Sodium Citrate to Use?Top

Bacon brocolli cheddar soup

The thickness of the sauce will depend on the ratio of liquid to cheese. If you weigh the cheese and then add the liquid as a percent of the weight you will get:

  • Cheese plus 0% to 35% liquid - firm, molded cheese, cheese slices
  • Cheese plus 35% to 85% liquid - thick and flowing cheese sauce, good for dips and quesos
  • Cheese plus 85% to 120% liquid - thin cheese sauce, cheese foam, fondues, mac and cheese
  • Cheese plus 120% liquid or more - continues to become thinner and thinner.

The final ingredient is the sodium citrate, which causes the cheese to stay together as it melts. It's typically used in a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid plus cheese weight.

Since sodium citrate brings a salty, sour taste it's important to use appropriate proportions while keeping the flavor of the dish in mind. Note: See How to Measure Modernist Ingredients for more information on ratios.

How to Create Melty Cheese with Sodium Citrate?Top

There are three main components to making a melty cheese sauce with sodium citrate: the cheese, the liquid, and the sodium citrate. Varying the amount of cheese and water used will change the resulting thickness of the melted cheese.

To make your own cheese sauces first choose the flavors you are aiming for. Then pick a cheese or two that will fit in that flavor profile. Remember, they don't have to be a traditionally "melty" cheese; anything that isn't super-dry should work fine.

Next, pick a liquid that will complement the cheese. Some common liquids are beer, wine, cider, stock, milk, or juices. Depending on how firm you want your cheese to be you can use anywhere between 35% liquid for a semi-molded cheese, up to 120% for a thin and runny sauce.

The final ingredient is the sodium citrate, which causes the cheese to stay together as it melts. It's typically used in a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid plus cheese weight.

When adding the cheese to the sauce you can use an immersion blender for a smooth sauce or a whisk for a stringier sauce. I often use a crockpot to keep the sauce melted for parties, that way you can just leave it out on the counter.

How to Make Cheese Soup with Sodium Citrate?Top

To make your own cheese soup first choose the flavors you are aiming for. Then pick a cheese or two that will fit in that flavor profile. Remember, they don't have to be a traditionally "melty" cheese; anything that isn't super-dry should work fine.

Next, pick a liquid that will complement the cheese. Some common liquids are beer, wine, cider, stock, milk, or juices. Depending on how firm you want your cheese soup to be you can use anywhere around 120% liquid for a heartier cheese soup, up to 175% for a thinner version.

The sodium citrate, which causes the cheese to stay together as it melts, is typically used in a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid plus cheese weight.

Examples of Sodium Citrate Cheese Soup Recipes

View more sodium citrate cheese soup recipes, or how to measure modernist ingredients for more information on ratios.

How to Make Fondue or Queso with Sodium Citrate?Top

To make your own cheese fondue or queso, first choose the flavors you are aiming for. Then pick a cheese or two that will fit in that flavor profile. Remember, they don't have to be a traditionally "melty" cheese; anything that isn't super-dry should work fine.

Next, pick a liquid that will complement the cheese. Some common liquids are beer, wine, cider, stock, milk, or juices. I tend to use between 50% and 90% for dips, depending on what I'm dipping into it, but you can go as high as 120% for runnier dips used with bread or other delicate items.

Sodium citrate, which causes the cheese to stay together as it melts, is typically used in a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid plus cheese weight.

Examples of Sodium Citrate Fondue Queso Recipes

View more sodium citrate fondue and queso recipes, or how to measure modernist ingredients for more information on ratios.

How to Make Sliceable Cheese with Sodium Citrate?Top

To make your own sliceable cheese first choose the flavors you are aiming for. Then pick a cheese or two that will fit in that flavor profile. Remember, they don't have to be a traditionally "melty" cheese; anything that isn't super-dry should work fine.

Next, pick a liquid that will complement the cheese. Some common liquids are beer, wine, cider, stock, milk, or juices. Depending on how firm you want your cheese to be you can use anywhere between 0% liquid for a firm molded cheese, up to 35% less firm slice.

Sodium citrate, which causes the cheese to stay together as it melts, is typically used in a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid plus cheese weight

Looking for More Articles?Top

Sodium Citrate Recipes and Articles

Bacon Cheddar Broccoli Soup Recipe

Bacon brocolli cheddar soup This classic bacon cheddar broccoli soup recipe uses the modernist ingredient of sodium citrate to help it stay together without diluting the flavor of the cheese with flour and other starches. The result is a super smooth, super cheesy soup.

Shrimp and Chile Queso Recipe with Sodium Citrate

Shrimp and cheese queso sodium citrate This shrimp and chile queso recipe adds sodium citrate to a cheddar and Gouda cheeses to give it a modernist twist treat for any party. This dish combines sweet shrimp, rich melted cheese and spicy peppers into a a decadent sauce that can be served with tortilla chips, bread chunks or on fajitas or tacos!