We all love Mac and Cheese, don’t we? That’s my go-to meal whenever I feel low or just want to treat myself. But I just don’t enjoy eating it; I love cooking it too. The most important thing in making Mac and Cheese is cooking the perfect cheese sauce first.
If you are not careful, the cheese sauce can get grainy or gritty, which spoils the whole fun. In this case, people have no idea what to do to fix the sauce. But worry no more! If you face this situation often, I have the solution for you.
You can fix Grainy or Gritty cheese sauce in three easy steps. These are Cooling it down, adding a powerful ingredient, and stirring vigorously. If you want the full details on how to do it and what further you can do to prevent the sauce from becoming grainy, then stay till the end.
Here is what you should do if you want to save the cheese sauce:
First, take the grainy or gritty cheese from the heat. Turn it off if it is in a pan and on the stove.
But to fix the grittiness, you will have to cool down the sauce quickly. I suggest you pour the sauce into a new pan.
Next, take ice cubes or anything and make a cold bath of ice. Place the new pan on it and let it stay there for a few minutes. This will release the heat at a faster rate, and the sauce will cool down.
After releasing the heat, you have to carefully choose an additional ingredient to deal with this grainy or gritty issue. Generally, lemon juice, cream, or white wine is added to minimize the texture and bring back the original version of the sauce.
Let’s discuss it all.
The most popular ingredient to deal with the gritty or grainy cheese sauce is lemon juice. It is generally preferred because it is acidic in nature. This acidic nature impacts protein separation, which in turn affects the molecules. Thus, the de-tangling starts, which ends with all the grittiness/ graininess gone.
Wondering how much to add? Well, if you squeeze two lemons, that will be enough. The juice of two lemons will be roughly equal to a spoon.
The best part is that the lemon juice will not change the taste of the sauce if you add it to the recommended amount. Adding it more might make the cheese sauce sour in taste and smell.
Don’t have lemons? No worries! You can also use cream to save your cheese sauce.
The cream has fat that has the capability to fight the grainy and gritty texture. In addition, the cream is put in the refrigerator; thus, it is cool. Adding it can further lower the temperature of the grainy or gritty cheese sauce.
The lower the temperature, the better the recovery process.
On top of this, adding cream will make the sauce thick.
Wondering how much cream you should add? Well, two to three spoons of cream should be fine.
But adding cream is the least preferred method, and it is because of health reasons. The cream is high in fat, leading to several health complications like high cholesterol levels, heart problems, and other diseases.
Still, if there are no lemons, you should only add the cream in the recommended quantity. Adding cream to a sauce once in a while won’t harm.
Moreover, don’t get carried away when you see sauce become grainy or gritty. Some people add both cream and lemon juice for a quicker recovery. But this attempt to save the sauce leads to more problems.
Adding both at the same time or the sauce will become non-consumable as the taste and aura will completely change. The Acid of lemon juice will react with the fat of cream, and the cheese sauce will become a mess.
Another ingredient you can add to stop the curdling of the sauce is White wine. It is the less popular ingredient to add, but it sure is effective.
But adding lemon juice or cream or white wine is not enough. You have to follow the third step, which is perhaps the most important part of this process.
After cooling the cheese sauce and adding lemon juice, cream, or white wine, it is time to stir the mixture strongly. For this, you have to take out the kitchen utensil I like the most- Whisk.
Keep doing this until the sauce starts to look normal.
However, don’t get carried away in this step either. Whisk in such a way that you don’t smear or slosh the sauce on your kitchen table and on your apron.
Some people like to use a spoon in this step. But spoons are not as effective as whisks if you want to fix your sauce quickly.
Now, let’s discuss why cheese sauce becomes grainy/gritty.
Wondering why cheese sauce becomes gritty or grainy? It’s curdling.
There are a lot of components present in the cheese sauce, and some of them are protein, water, and fat. When the protein starts to tangle and bind, that’s when the whole problem starts. It gets separated from the water, leading to curds forming.
This tangling of protein mainly occurs when you overheat.
Another reason why curdling happens is when there is not enough fat in the sauce. This generally occurs if you are using low-fat ingredients to make the sauce.
Adding too much salt or vinegar (in some recipes) can cause curdling too.
You can do some things if you don’t want the cheese sauce to become gritty or grainy.
You should not rush when you are making a cheese sauce. Adding cheese quickly can also cause grains to appear. So, it is suggested to put the cheese slowly in the pan and continue with the heating.
Heating cheese sauce excessively will affect the protein as it will start to tangle. So, make sure you don’t apply more heat for a long period.
Adding eggs at the beginning of cooking can make the cheese sauce become gritty as the watery liquid of the egg can eventually cause the grains to form.
So, I suggest you whisk the egg in a separate bowl and add it in the last step to avoid changing the texture of the sauce.
If you want to make a top-notch cheese sauce, then you should definitely make Roux. In this, you add butter and flour in equal amounts and make a paste of it. Then, add this to the cheese sauce. This will also stop cheese sauce from becoming grainy.
People mostly buy pre-grated cheese to make the sauce. This can cause problems for you as preservatives and additives are added to it, which can prompt curdling. So, you should buy a lot of cheese at once and then grate yourself.
Also, cheese should be at room temperature before you add it. This will allow smooth cooking!
If you don’t want the cheese sauce to get grainy, then just add cornstarch while you are cooking it. Cornstarch absorbs the water and does not allow the separation of protein to happen.
If you follow these basic steps, I am fully confident that you won’t have to deal with the grainy/ gritty cheese sauce!
So, how to fix grainy or gritty cheese sauce?
Well, if you are cooking cheese sauce and it starts to look grainy and gritty, then don’t panic. First, turn off the heat, and cool the sauce by pouring it into a new pan and placing it in an ice bath. Next, add lemon juice or cream or white wine, and then stir vigorously. This will start bringing cheese sauce into the composition it is supposed to be.
If you want to avoid this situation in the future, then you should opt for some precautionary measures right from the beginning. These are: don’t overheat the sauce, add eggs in the last steps, make a solid roux, go for the perfect cheese, add cornstarch, and take everything slowly.
If you just follow these measures, you can have a delicious and high-quality cheese sauce. Then, pour it wherever you want!