A Kitchen Tip: Five Reasons to Grate Your Own Cheese!

Grate Cheese

 

A cheesy kitchen tip.

Literally.

 

Did you know that you can not only save a lot of money, but that it’s much healthier to grate your own cheese rather than buy the pre-grated stuff? I never buy pre-grated. I buy blocks (usually from our raw milk co-op) and we grate them ourselves.

 

Here’s why you should too:

  • You get more for your money! Not only is block cheese usually priced less per ounce, freshly grated cheese also has greater volume than pre-grated that’s been sitting in a bag. So, an eight ounce bag of grated cheese is equal to two cups, while an eight ounce block will yield as much as three to four cups (depending on how tightly you pack it). I pack mine loosely and haven’t found a recipe yet that didn’t work this way.
  • It lasts longer! A block of cheese wrapped in foil will last for weeks as opposed to a package of pre-grated cheese, which only lasts three to five days.
  • It’s healthier! Pre-grated cheese is coated with an additive to keep it from clumping and to inhibit mold. This is often cellulose, potato starch, or something similar. Some of these additives can particularly be a problem for anyone with any kind of gluten sensitivity, since they’re often derived from gluten-containing sources.
  • It tastes better! Cheese grated the old-fashioned way melts much smoother and tastes much better! This was an unexpected benefit we found when we made the switch, but it makes sense! There’s nothing coating the cheese to keep it from melting very smooth and creamy. We can all tell the difference immediately now, just by taste and texture.
  • It’s easy! Grating by hand only takes a couple of extra minutes, and it’s a great job for one of the kids to do! 😉
We’ve been grating all of our own cheese for several years now and don’t miss the convenience of buying it pre-grated at all.

 

So, there you have it…a simple way to be frugal and healthy, not to mention improving the taste and texture of your meals! Give it a try!

Linked with Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family

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Comments

  1. FANTASTIC TIP!! I just loaded up on some shredded but I will definately be switching over to grate your own for next month!!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I rarely buy pre-shredded cheese. I agree that it just doens't taste the same. I sometimes use my food processor if I need to grate a lot of cheese and store it in a gallon zip-loc. I love having it ready to use when I need it.

  3. I do buy preshredded cheese when it's on sale. I stick them in the freezer. Then I'll know I've got cheese on hand to make tacos or pizzas….I've done some cost comparison and most times at my grocery store the shredded cheese is less expensive than the block cheese (per ounce cost). I keep thinking that the block of cheese would be cheaper. So I'm not sure which is more cost effective. My other issue is that when I defrost a block of cheese it gets all crumbly and doesn't grate very well. Any suggestions?

  4. I switched to freshly-grated cheese when I heard about the "plasticky" coating put on store-bought shredded. I buy the blocks when they are on sale. I grate them and freeze them in 2 cup bags. Then I don't have any trouble with crumbling (as when the blocks have been frozen.) I even have a flavor mix I enjoy (2/3 mozzarella & 1/3 mild cheddar). It's less fattening and still tasty.

  5. I haven't had any luck freezing a block of cheese, but shredded cheese freezes fine. Although, since it's one of our snacks, I rarely have any left to freeze.I love the fact that the blocks of cheese are just cheese and not the preservatives that you mentioned.10 years ago I argued with people that pre-shredded cheese tastes exactly the same…I was WRONG!

  6. I usually buy shredded. I often think my time is worth more than I save to shred my own (or I'm just lazy, but that sounded good, didn't it?) BUT I didn't know about the coating causing problems for people with gluten sensitivities. That's good to know since it runs in my family.

  7. Astrid…I agree with Hope…if you shred it before freezing, there's no issue! Mozzarella tends to be the one I freeze most frequently…most of the rest gets used so quickly it never gets put in the freezer, but I've had success thawing it in the fridge…the texture doesn't seem to be as affected that way. On the cost comparison…are you sure you're comparing apples to apples? Comparing oz to oz doesn't work…an 8 oz bag of shredded is not the equivalent of an 8 oz block. The block will yield nearly twice the cups of grated cheese as the bag.

  8. Um…8 oz of cheese is 8 oz of cheese, in a block or shredded. You may be able to fluff-up your own shred, but it’s still the same amount of cheese. 8 oz only gives 2 cups, not 4.

    There may be other grate (ahem) reasons to shred your own cheese, and block cheese is usually cheaper per pound than pre-shredded, but you don’t get any more cheese for the same weight.

    • True, 8 oz is 8 oz. But, a cup is measured by volume, not weight, and freshly grated has more volume than the bagged stuff. The same principle applies to freshly ground versus store-bought flour. A cup of store-bought flour weighs significantly more than freshly ground, it’s not a one for one exchange. So when baking with fresh flour, you’ll most likely need more than the recipe calls for if it was written using store-bought or your dough will be too wet. With cheese, it’s not necessary to be so precise, unless the recipe specifically calls for the cheese by weight instead of volume, and you’ll end up using less cheese when using freshly grated. 🙂

      • This is quite a late reply to an older post, however, measuring by volume applies to liquids, not dry ingredients, although many people use the method in the U.S. and food products list it to appease those who use it.

        Volume measurements applied to dry weights are, unfortunately, one of the most inaccurate methods to use, and depending on how one “packs” dry ingredients in a measuring cup as you stated, can actually throw the amount off by as much as 10 per cent.

        That is huge when referring to a product such as flour, which is one reason many people discover a recipe’s finished product fails.

        The most accurate method to weigh dry ingredients is to use an accurate food scale for weight. These days, inexpensive and essy-to–use models are available.

        Cheese is a viscous food, and using too much vs too little, if relying on packing by volume, can indeed affect a dish, since everyone’s touch to “pack” varies — one of the reasons someone may state a sauce is runny vs someone else who states it’s too thick. Each time is inconsistent with the same individual, as well, since one’s touch is not calibrated.

        As for wet doughs, they may be difficult to work with, but high hydration doughs turn out a product that is tender, fluffy, and has a longer shelf life than drier doughs. It is best to err on the side of a softer dough, in most cases, than a dry one.

        • Great info, JUJU. I agree weight is always the most accurate! It would be nice if more recipes would use weight for things like this. Thankfully, for something like cheese you can often get away with being a bit less precise, though it can affect things sometimes as you said.

  9. Just a clarification to your “It’s Healthier” section. In regard to additives and your comment: [Additives are] “often cellulose, potato starch, or something similar. These additives can particularly be a problem for anyone with any kind of gluten sensitivity, since they’re often derived from gluten-containing sources.”

    Potato starch does not contain gluten; nor does cellulose. Please see this list of safe gluten free foods from Celiac.com:

    http://www.celiac.com/articles/181/1/Safe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Safe-Ingredients/Page1.html

    As the mom of a child with Celiac Disease; I’m relieved shredded cheese manufacturers now use potato starch or cellulose to prevent anti-caking; and not wheat flour anymore. However, I like to shred my own cheese to save money! I am pointing out this clarification because I don’t want gluten-sensitive people (or anyone who is cooking/baking for someone with these dietary restrictions) to think they can’t use shredded cheese if it contains potato starch or cellulose. Perhaps it would be better to simply say it is healthier because it is free of additives; and leave it at that.

    • Hi Melissa.

      Thanks for the clarification. You’re right…potato starch and cellulose neither contain gluten (they have their own issues but I won’t go into that here), but other additives that are sometimes used do, which is what I was pointing out. I edited that sentence a bit to make that more clear. I appreciate the feedback! 🙂

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