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Cheese Graters

posted in Knives by Kathy Maister

Graters are a great addition to your collection of kitchen utensils — you’ll need them both for cheese and vegetables. They come in many different sizes and shapes.

The box grater…

…which you can buy for less than $10 offers a different grating option on each of its four sides.

I have taken a wedge of Parmesan cheese…

…and shredded some on each side of the box grater.

It shreds from very fine…

…To slightly bigger…

…to even bigger shreds.

Then to what almost looks like fine slices of Parmesan.

Shaved Parmesan

Recipes should tell you if something should be finely grated or coarsely grated. Graters are very sharp and you have to be careful not to shred your knuckles along with the cheese (or vegetable) you are shredding! All you need to do is firmly hold onto the grater and with a downward stroke, start grating.

Flat graters work well and take up only a little space in the drawer. However, they only offer you only one choice for shredding size.

You can buy already-grated cheese in the dairy section of your grocery store. It is usually more expensive than grating your own block of cheese, but is certainly convenient. However, note that store-bought grated cheese dries out very quickly.

Many types of cheese, such as the Gruyere that I use in making my quiche, are not available in a grated format.


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Lily said:

Really useful blog, thanks! Do you have any tips for cleaning box graters afterwards? I don’t have a dishwasher, and am sick of shredding (or, rather, grating) my sponges!


Justin said:

I just figured this out yesterday (after years of destroying sponges). The trick is to clean against the grain of the blades on the outside sides of the box… (meaning you can only scrub in an upwards direction.) On the inside of the box it doesnt make any difference because the blades wont catch the sponge. Use lots of water and it cleans up really quickly. I also find it cleans up a lot better if I wash it immediately after the cheese is grated.

Lily said:

Thanks! Yeah, I’ve tried scrubbing side to side on the outside but that still shreds them; I’ll try just upwards….and you’re right, not leaving them for too long after I’ve used them (that seems to be my biggest problem!)

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Lily, Justin is so right, wash your grater from the bottom up and you will not end up with a grated sponge! Also, if you have a “spray hose” by your sink or as part of your faucet, spray the grater vigorously with hot water right after using it!

TRACY said:

Hi,where to keep grated cheese ?

Fridge or freezer?


Kathy Maister said:

You can freeze cheese but it does it dry out .
The pre-shredded cheese that you buy in the grocery store has a sell by date. If it is not opened, you can store it in the refrigerator for quite some time. This type of pre-shredded cheese has preservatives and “non-clumping” agents added to it, which generally means the sell by date is a couple of months ahead.

Cheese that you have freshly shredded will go off much more quickly. You can wrap up the leftovers in a freezer proof bag or container and freeze it for up to 4-6 weeks.

donna broadway said:

can you freeze store bought schredded cheese.

Kathy Maister said:

Yes you can, (but it will dry it out). Be sure to use it up within 4-6 weeks.

Janie said:

I always spray my grater with non-stick spray before I start grating and it is ALOT easier to clean :)

startcooking said:

Janie – Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

Sean said:

I’ve found that using a dish brush works really well (looks kinda like a giant tooth brush) for cleaning my grater. It gets the cheese glue off and doesn’t shred.

Kathy Maister said:

Great tip Sean! Cheese graters are great until you grate your fingers! A dish brush is a perfect cleaning solution!

Din said:

How does one clean a kitchen sink brush that has been used to brush off melted cheese– dishes are clean , brush stuck with mozzorella!

Jessica said:

Hello Din,

My suggestion for cleaning the brush would be to soak it in a pot of hot, soapy water for a few hours (or overnight). That should loosen the cheese so that it can be rinsed off.

But if it doesn’t work, maybe it’s time for a new brush.


Dentist Stockton said:

I guess it is more advantageous to use the box greater than the flat one, because buy buying one, will let you have different kinds of grates for your cheese.

Rotary Cheese Grater said:

I am a rotary Cheese Grater fan myself but if I’m traveling I can do without it.

I live in New Zealand and you’d think that the quality of cheese would be good, I don’t think so! The pre-grated stuff here is terrible.

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