I am a fan of everything that contains cheese. Whether it is sauce, soup, mac n cheese, or a big juicy cheeseburger – just give me all the cheese you can.
And since I am a cook as well, I am always in search of ingredients that can help me achieve the best possible cheesy dish.
Most recently, I found out about an incredible ingredient known as cheese roux concentrate. It is a condiment that is gaining more and more popularity among both home cooks and chefs, and not without reason.
Because of that, I decided to share everything I know about it, from its main ingredients to its practical usage, and much, much more.
So What Exactly Is Cheese Roux Concentrate?
Cheese roux concentrate is actually a thick, creamy sauce made from a mixture of cheese, butter, milk, and all-purpose flour cooked and concentrated.
The roux is a mixture of flour and butter that is cooked until it is lightly browned, then combined with milk to create a creamy base.
The cheese is then added to the mixture, resulting in a rich and savory cheese sauce.
The concentrated form of cheese roux typically comes in a jar or pouch and can be used to make a variety of dishes, such as macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and sauces for vegetables or meats.
It is a convenient and time-saving option for those who want to enjoy the flavor of homemade cheese sauce without the effort of making it from scratch.
How Is Cheese Roux Concentrate Made?
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (such as cheddar or parmesan)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, or until it turns a light golden brown color.
3. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes, or until it thickens to the desired consistency.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese until it has fully melted and incorporated into the mixture.
6. Add salt and pepper.
7. Allow the mixture to cool, and then transfer it to a jar or airtight container for storage in the refrigerator or freezer.
Why Should You Use Cheese Roux Concentrate?
Cheese roux concentrate doesn’t come without some advantages, so I decided to present to you the most important ones.
• Convenience: One of the main benefits of using cheese roux concentrate is that it is a convenient and time-saving option for making cheese sauce.
Rather than having to make a roux from scratch and then add cheese and other ingredients, you can simply add the concentrate to your dish and adjust the consistency and flavor to your liking.
• Flavor: Cheese roux concentrate is made with real cheese, so it has a rich, savory flavor that can be difficult to replicate with other ingredients.
• Consistency: Cheese roux concentrate helps ensure that your cheese sauce has a consistent thickness and texture, which can be difficult to achieve when making cheese sauce from scratch.
• Versatility: As I already said in the introduction, it can be used in a variety of dishes. This makes it a versatile ingredient to have on hand for many different recipes.
• Long shelf life: This concentrate typically has a long shelf life when stored properly, so you can keep it on hand for whenever you need to make a quick and easy cheese sauce.
In the second part of this article, you will learn all about handling and storing cheese roux concentrate the right way.
Are There Any Health Considerations?
As you can see, there are many pros to using cheese roux concentrate, but there are also some cons, and they are related to health.
• High In Calories: Cheese roux concentrate is typically high in calories, due to the combination of flour, butter, milk, and cheese.
For example, one cup of homemade cheese sauce made with whole milk and cheddar cheese can have around 400-500 calories.
If you’re watching your calorie intake, consider using a lower-fat milk or cheese, or using cheese roux concentrate in moderation.
• High Fat Content: This ingredient can also be quite high in fat, especially saturated fat, contributing to many health problems if consumed in excess.
• Sodium: Many commercial cheese roux concentrates contain a high amount of sodium, which may lead to high blood pressure and other health issues.
To reduce the sodium content of your cheese sauce, look for low-sodium options, or use smaller amounts of concentrate and season your dish with herbs and spices instead.
What Are The Best Ways To Use It?
If you love cheese and cheesy dishes, and you can discipline yourself not to overdo it, then there is really nothing stopping you from using cheese roux concentrate. And there are many ways to do that.
One of my favorite ways to use it is for making macaroni and cheese. And it is a really simple process with amazing and flavorful results.
All you need to do is to add the concentrate to cooked pasta, along with any other desired ingredients like milk, butter, and seasonings, and stir until the cheese sauce is smooth and creamy.
You can also use it as a topping or sauce for cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. Simply steam or roast the vegetables and then drizzle the cheese sauce over the top and your healthy and delicious mix is ready to eat.
Casseroles are also great for incorporating cheese roux concentrate, and it can be used in a variety of types, such as chicken and broccoli casserole or tuna noodle casserole.
And then there are dips. Cheese roux concentrate can be used as a base for all kinds of dips, such as queso dip or spinach and artichoke dip.
Simply mix the concentrate with other ingredients like cream cheese, sour cream, and seasonings, and serve with chips or vegetables for dipping. My personal favorite is cheese roux concentrate with crispy Kennebeck fries.
My final recommendation is to use it in sandwiches, as you will be surprised how good that can be, especially in sandwiches such as grilled cheese or turkey sandwiches.
How To Handle And Store Cheese Roux Concentrate?
One of the most important things when it comes to food, especially sensitive ones, is that you know how to handle it properly, as well as how to store it.
This is especially the case with sauces that contain highly perishable ingredients like dairy products, so I will do my best to explain to you what to do with cheese roux concentrate in terms of handling and storage.
1. Handling: When handling it, it is best that you use clean utensils and hands to prevent any possible contamination.
When scooping out the concentrate, make sure to use a clean spoon or spatula, and avoid touching it with your hands.
2. Storage: Your best option is to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, away from any strong-smelling foods that could affect its flavor.
Most cheese roux concentrates can be stored in the fridge for up to one week, although the exact storage time will depend on the specific brand and recipe.
3. Freezing: If you have leftovers that you don’t plan to eat soon you can freeze them for longer-term storage.
Simply transfer the concentrate to a freezer-safe container, leaving some room for expansion, and store it in the freezer for up to several months.
When you’re ready to use the concentrate, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave. I also recommend reading these recommendations on freezing and food safety by the USDA.
4. Reheating: To reheat cheese roux concentrate, simply transfer it to a saucepan and heat it over low to medium heat, stirring frequently, until it’s heated through and smooth.
You can also add milk or water to thin it in order to achieve the desired consistency.
You can also microwave the concentrate in a microwave-safe dish, stirring every 30 seconds, until it’s heated through and smooth. Here are the safe methods of reheating food, as recommended by the USDA.
Cheese Roux Vs Cheese Roux Concentrate
As I could conclude from speaking to many people interested in cheese products and cheese dishes, there is a lot of confusion about cheese roux and cheese roux concentrate.
Well, cheese roux is made by combining or mixing equivalent parts of flour and butter.
When it comes to cheese roux concentrate, it is a thick paste-like mixture made mostly from powdered cheese with a bit of flour and butter to bind it together.
The main difference between cheese roux and cheese roux concentrate is the convenience factor.
Cheese roux requires more time and effort to make from scratch, while cheese roux concentrate offers a quicker and easier way to make the cheese sauce.
Cheese roux concentrate is also more shelf-stable than cheese roux, as it can be stored in a dry pantry or cupboard, while cheese roux typically needs to be refrigerated or frozen to maintain its quality.
There is also a difference in taste and texture between the two. Cheese roux made from scratch tends to have a richer, more complex flavor and thicker, creamier texture when compared with concentrated cheese roux, which can be slightly thinner or less creamy.
Finally, cheese roux concentrate is more suitable for quick recipes such as casseroles or pasta dishes where time is often very important.