Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sargento Cheese: Natural vs Processed

I love cheese.

I mean really, who doesn't LOVE cheese! 

You can imagine how thrilled I was when Sargento asked me to hold a cheese tasting gathering! They asked me to compare Sargento natural cheese with processed American cheese. 

This was intriguing to me as I buy both cheeses. Sargento IS the brand of natural cheese that I buy as it is quite tasty, I find coupons often and it is affordable.  I also buy processed cheese as some of my daycare children prefer it.  So I thought a taste test was a great idea!!

Sargento was kind enough to ship me some Sharp Cheddar Sargento Slices, some processed American cheese, crackers, dried fruit and adorable napkins.  I invited some guests and got ready for a cheese party!! 

If this was going to be a cheese party, I had to include MORE cheese! So we ate Pizza Roll-Up Burritos made with Sargento Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

We had a lot of fun. I invited 4 other people.  We ate, tasted cheese, talked and then played cards until way too late. I meant to get more pictures but I just snapped some of the food and then just had fun and forgot about the camera.  

So I knew that processed cheese wasn't as good for you but I guess I never really thought about WHY.  It's easy to live in denial!! 

Here are some differences:

Sargento Natural Cheese:
...Is never made with processed ingredients.
...Is naturally aged to perfection
...Is tested by professional cheese graders to ensure the highest quality cheese
...Is cut directly and simply from real block cheese and packaged immediately.
...It is never melted while being made
...Needs to be refrigerated
...130 mg sodium for a 21 g. slice
...is REAL cheese

Processed cheese:
...Is made with added emulsifiers such as calcium phosphate, sodium citrate and sodium phosphate and often has preservatives such as sorbic acid.
...Is typically heated to about 180 degrees and cooked with team which strips out flavor
...Some processed cheese sit on a store shelf for months without refrigeration before being sold
...Often is pumped into plastic packaging and run over a series of rollers to form a slice
...Is cooked into a liquid before being formed into a slice
...250 mg. of sodium for 19 g. slice
...Is MADE FROM cheese (and other ingredients)

After hearing this, my kids don't want me to ever buy processed again.

Sargento asked us to:
1. Look at the cheese - Natural cheese come in different colors but in general have a non-glossy appearance. Processed cheese have a shine to them, even after the plastic is removed. 

2. Touch the cheese and feel it's texture - Natural cheese texture can vary by cheese variety but will normally break when you bend it which is what cheese is supposed to do.  Processed cheese is smooth and rubbery and can often bend and fold without breaking.  It can sometimes feel mushy. 

3. Smell the cheese - Natural cheeses' aroma will vary but they will be earthy, nutty and/or fruity.  Processed cheese is usually lacking in strong aroma. 

4.  Taste the cheese - Natural cheeses have a bunch of flavors, from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp.  The dominant characteristic in processed cheese is often described as salty. 

Well, after doing all this, the Sargento Natural cheese not only looked better but felt, smelled and tasted better.  Funny, I never really thought of this before.  I'd always used processed cheese for grilled cheese but after trying it on a Grilled Apple Cheese Sandwich, I always use the Sargento singles now.  

Sargento provided me with free cheese, crackers and dried fruit but all opinions are mine.  We DO buy Sargento cheese and it is our favorite!  If you're a processed cheese fan, I suggest you branch out and try some Sargento Natural cheese. 


  1. My husband is a processed "cheese" addict (we can't really call it cheese, can we?). I'm hoping to change his mind after sharing what you learned :)

  2. Yep - I don't think there is a cheese out there I don't like!

    I made banana and granola pancakes this morning after seeing them on Jenn (cooking aweigh the pounds) blog - they turned out fantastic - 10 points for 3, but totally worth it - I am posting the recipe tomorrow! :D

  3. I haven't bought processed cheese since my daughter was little. I don't think you can really compare the two :D it's like comparing a yacht to a rowboat. Nice review Debbi!

  4. I have to buy string cheese regularly as that's the only thing I can give the Sous Pug his pills in lately. Well, he's a finicky eater and the brand I buy for him is Sargento - He's gone through a host of others and spits them out. If a dog can tell that something's not right with the cheese, what does that tell us about the ingredients. Sargento is a great brand - love them!

  5. I think I would go for the natural. That sandwich looks mouthwatering.

  6. Great post! We call processed cheese, "sweaty cheese", lol! That shine is such a turn-off. Natural cheese is always the way to go.

  7. I had to come back and say your post just taught me something. The cheese I buy up here in Canada is called "Black Diamond" and it's actually Sargento cheese. I never knew they were one and the same. You learn something new every day......

  8. So funny how even your kids changed their mind! I used to love american cheese for grilled cheese too because of the way it melted but now I'm an extra sharp cheddar lover.

  9. Sargento is 100 % Real Natural naturally made cheeses from our family owned company dating back three generations. Thanks for sharing this Debbie, great post !