Perfect cheese fondue requires precision, say scientists


Geneva: Scientists have discovered how to make the perfect cheese fondue, by optimally balancing ingredients of the iconic Swiss dish for the best flavour and texture.

Cheese fondue is an icon of Swiss cuisine and a dinner party staple. While it may seem like a simple dish, getting the texture right can be a challenge for optimal mouthfeel, dipping, and flavour release.

This requires the perfect balance of cheese, wine and starch, according to researchers from ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Their study, published in the journal ACS Omega, shows how to use these key ingredients to produce deliciously melted fondue.

Once a fad of the 1970s, fondue has made a resurgence in recent years, researchers said. Traditional versions also include wine and seasonings, as well as starch for cohesion.

Chemically speaking, fondue is a multiphase system of colloids that require just the right inputs to achieve cheesy perfection. One wrong move could leave the preparer with an unappetizing bowl of separated cheese solids and oils, researchers said.

To gain insight into the flow of fondue, they wanted to assess the effect of starch and wine on the dish.

The team started with equal amounts of two traditional fondue cheeses – Gruyere and Vacherin – in water. The addition of a potato starch slurry prevented irreversible separation of the dish.

To mimic the effects of wine, they added a mixture of water and ethanol. This decreased the viscosity of the fondue, which is required for optimal mouthfeel and dipping coverage.

They also incorporated acid to study the effect of lowering the pH, and this generally had the effect of lowering the fondue's viscosity.

The researchers also explored alternative thickening agents. Less carrageenan and xanthan gum were required compared to the amount of potato starch needed, but it was carrageenan that provided the creamiest results.

Overall, the study shows that a few minor tweaks can result in cheesy perfection every time the fondue pot is brought out, researchers said.

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