There are so many kitchen tasks we look forward to, like kneading bread dough, frosting cakes, and scrambling eggs. That said, there are just as many we would rather hand off to our sous-chef (aka S.O.), like washing herbs, trimming fat, and, more specifically, grating cheese.
Tedious at best and knuckle-bloodying at worst (we’re looking at you, box graters), grating cheese can be a pain, literally. And we know what you’re thinking, why not just get pre-shredded cheese? Well, friends, we don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth is that the pre-shredded packaged cheese you get from the store contains a handful of icky ingredients to prevent it from clumping.
And while we obviously want to avoid fueling our bodies with questionable additives, these ingredients can also change the consistency of the cheese, turning your ooey-gooey mouth-watering cheese dip into a clumpy hot mess – yikes!
If you’re sick and tired of hurting your hands (or the anxiety that comes from thinking you’re going to hurt your hands) but don’t want to cave and settle for pre-shredded cheese, let us be the first to say that we understand your frustration.
And while we can’t come and grate your cheese for you, we can, however, teach you how to grate cheese like a pro — injury-free. So pull up your sleeves, clean off the kitchen counter, and whip out your handy-dandy cheese grater – let’s get grating!
A Few Reasons Why You Should ALWAYS Grate Your Cheese
To grate, or not to grate, that is the question. And the answer? Well, the answer will always be “to grate’ — but why?
Grating your own cheese takes a little more time and, depending on your weapon of choice (box grater, Microplane grater, etc.), can put your fingers at risk for injury. However, you’ll find that not only is grating your cheese much more economical, but it also melts better, tastes better, and you won’t have to wonder about any gross chemicals (yeah, chemicals *insert shudder here*).
Sure, it might seem like a labor-intensive job, especially when the pre-shredded stuff is essentially at your fingertips, but we’re going to tell you a few reasons why you should re-think it.
Reason #1: It Melts Like a Dream
Believe it or not, the pre-grated cheese you get from the local market contains preservatives like natamycin and potato starch, which are meant to keep the tiny cheese shreds from clumping together in the bag.
While no one wants to purchase a bag of clumpy cheese, the added starches also inhibit the cheese from that creamier, smoother melt you get (and crave) when you shred your own from a block of cheese.
That being said, if you’re looking to use cheese in an ooey-gooey cheesy recipe, steer clear of the pre-shredded stuff. Trust us; when your dinner party is the envy of all your friends, you’ll thank us later.
Reason #2: More Bang For Your Buck
Don’t let the hefty price tag on an eight-ounce block of cheddar sway you to reach for an eight-ounce bag of the pre-shredded stuff instead. What you might not have realized is that you’ll actually get much more cheese out of a block than what’s in a bag.
Yep, it’s true — shredded cheese actually costs more. And in case you didn’t know it, that bag of pre-shredded cheese comes with a “convenience charge” – you’re paying extra for the “convenience” of your cheese being pre-shredded.
Reason #3: It’s Tastes Better
This is really a no-brainer — when you grate your own cheese, it’s fresher. And when things are fresher, they tend to taste better. It’s as simple as that! Plus, freshly grated cheese doesn’t contain added chemicals, preservatives, and anti-caking agents; it’s just cheese.
We don’t know about you, but when we’re getting down on some cheese, we want to taste the depth of flavor the way the Cheese Gods intended we would. And the only way to do that is by — you guessed it — grating your own cheese. Seriously, please don’t anger the Cheese Gods.
Reason #4: You’ll Avoid Carbs
A common ingredient found in shredded cheese is cellulose and added carbs. Cellulose is a plant fiber that’s often included in foods to add a bit of texture and create bulk. It also helps to keep pre-shredded cheese from sticking and clumping.
Even though these fibers are claimed to be harmless, they add unnecessary carbohydrates to what’s usually a zero-carb food item which, if you ask us, is a big thumbs down in our book!
Reason #5: It Builds Toned Arms
Okay, okay, some of you may see this as a negative, but in our book, small bits of activity and exercise can make a huge difference in one’s overall health — so we’re totally here for it.
Besides, a free and spontaneous arm workout with freshly grated cheese as the reward? Sign us up! All you can get at the gym is a dry oat bar, but when you work out in the kitchen, yeah, cheese is a waaay better reward.
Cheese Grater 101: How To Grate Like A Pro
Now that you’re totally convinced to never buy pre-shredded cheese again, let’s talk about grating, shall we?
When it comes to cheese graters, there are three different kinds that are most commonly used:
1. Microplane Grater
A Microplane cheese grater consists of a handle attached to a long, flat grate with small, sharp teeth. In most kitchens, these popular tools are often used to zest lemons or grate garlic, but they are perfectly OK to use when needing to grate cheese.
Since Microplane graters tend to produce smaller pieces of grated cheese, they’re best used with hard cheeses such as Pecorino or Parmesan. Grating a super soft cheese like mozzarella and Havarti would leave you with not just a headache but a huge mushy mess instead of finely grated cheese. We mean, we’d still eat it, but it’s not exactly Pinterest-worthy.
To use a Microplane grater, simply hold the tool over a plate or board and then gently swipe the cheese against the grate using an up-and-down motion. Keep grating until you have the right amount of cheese needed for your dish.
2. Box Grater
Ah, the box grater — notorious for hand injuries and a real pain in the derriere to use! This type of grater is four-sided, with each side having differently sized teeth so you can grate both hard and soft cheeses. While the motion is similar to the Microplane grater, here are a few tips to help avoid any issues when grating cheese with a box grater:
- Place your cheese in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it feels firm prior to grating to make it easier to grate.
- Keep your cheese medium to large-sized when grating to prevent scraping your fingers.
- Lightly coat the outside of your box grater with cooking spray to help make the cheese glide easier.
3. Rotary Cheese Grater
And last but certainly not least, we have the rotary cheese grater. Of all the cheese graters, this little tool is our favorite. Why? Because it’s super easy to use, it grates cheese effortlessly and will save your knuckles in the process.
While there are a ton of rotary cheese graters on the market, we love Cousin Bartolomeo’s Rotary Cheese Grater from Bulbhead. Not only is it made from stainless steel and BPA-free plastic, but it’s extremely easy to load, compact and portable, and unlike most rotary cheese graters, the drum is dishwasher-safe, making clean-up a breeze.
Simply squeeze the tabs on both sides to open and insert your cheese-of-choice, then rotate the handle, and voila! Freshly grated cheese in a matter of minutes. What’s not to love?
A Great Grater
All in all, grating your own cheese by hand isn’t the most fun by any means — we totally get that. But it can be well worth it when you’re biting into an ooey-gooey grilled cheese sammy smothered and covered with melty cheddar, topped with tomato and bacon.
So grab your handy-dandy grater, pick up a block of your favorite cheese from the local market and get to work!
Here at BulbHead, we’re more than the Home of Bright Ideas. We’re also the home of practical solutions. Whether you’re looking for an easier way to grate cheese or trying to get your kitchen more organized, we have everything you need to make life a little simpler.