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Grated cheese

Soop Oct 12, 2010 03:44 AM

Grated cheese is amazing. People often wonder why it tastes better than non-grated cheese, but I think it has to be down to surface area (and to a lesser extent mouthfeel).

The reason you grate cheese to make a cheese sauce (roux > bechemal > cheese sauce) is because it helps it to melt quicker. So it stands to reason, not only should the cheese melt in your mouth quicker, but the surface area means more cheese-tastebud contact.

And lastly, it's easy to put in sandwiches, gut grab it and drop it in.

  1. eclecticsynergy Oct 16, 2010 11:13 AM

    IMO, another thing beyond surface area that helps grated taste better is the air. Engages the aroma a bit factor more and amplifies some aspects of the flavor. This will matter less if the cheese is melted of course, but it may still be that the cheese is a bit more oxygenated. Just a thought.

    It's been my experience that fresh grated tastes much better than pre-grated, aside from the obvious texture differences due to non-caking additives. Mild cheeses especially seem to lose much of the buttery overtone within twenty four hours of grating. (Have not experimented with freezing fresh-grated cheese so I have no opinion on whether freezing would prevent that, but it might.)

    Worked in a pizzeria once that paid top dollar for the very best Wisconsin mozzarella, pre-shredded. Next job was a place that shredded their own fresh every day using cheaper foodservice grade local (New York State) mozzarella, and the taste was far, far superior. Night & day.

    1. c
      condie Oct 16, 2010 08:41 AM

      Ok. I'll bite. Pre-grated probably doesn't taste as good, but it is very convenient. Can anyone suggest a best way to grate cheese in his/her own small kitchen. There are many kinds and types of home cheese graters. Which is best?

      2 Replies
      1. re: condie
        BobB Oct 16, 2010 09:33 AM

        Depends on the type of cheese and what you want to do with it. For general cooking purposes with a firm cheese like cheddar or mozzarella (the pizza kind, not fresh) I like a flat washboard-type with about 1/4" cutting slots. I prefer this to the old-fashioned four-sided box type because I can easily set it on top of a bowl or other container and grate right into it. But that's a matter of personal preference - my wife, for example, prefers the box type, so we have both in our kitchen.

        For hard cheeses like parmigiano-reggiano or romano for use on pasta, I prefer a microplane or even a mini food processor.

        1. re: BobB
          Harters Oct 16, 2010 09:57 AM

          I'm with both BobB and Mrs BobB - box type for most; microplane for hard cheese for pasta.

      2. m
        Maximilien Oct 13, 2010 08:51 AM

        I tried grating my Brie ... didn't work as advertised...


        4 Replies
        1. re: Maximilien
          Soop Oct 13, 2010 08:58 AM

          Actually, I followed a Gordon Ramsey recipe once which called for grated goats cheese. I duly proceeded to try, and would not recommend it. What was he thinking?

          1. re: Soop
            BobB Oct 13, 2010 09:01 AM

            I have a great recipe for scones which calls for grated butter - the trick is to freeze the butter first. But I'm not sure how freezing would affect goat cheese. Probably not well.

            1. re: BobB
              cheesecake17 Oct 13, 2010 09:04 AM

              I freeze goat cheese sometimes for 15 minutes before slicing... but I've never tried grating it.

              On Best Thing I Ever Ate last night, they showed a salad topped with grated blue cheese. The cheese was frozen then grated.

            2. re: Soop
              sillyeatinggirl Oct 14, 2010 02:21 AM

              there are more aged goat's cheeses that can be grated - maybe he was referring to those? There are several goat goudas, and a few goat cheddars that taste and grate well. I don't think he meant the fresh, soft goat cheese/ chevre.

          2. chef chicklet Oct 13, 2010 02:07 AM

            with all due respect to those that like this product... for me it doesn't even taste like cheese and I find it melts wierd. I've tried a few different brands and was hugely disappointed. I'll grate my own. Ps. Also be careful when to look for mold, sometimes you'll find small little green flecks in the preshredded stuff and it ain't parsley.

            10 Replies
            1. re: chef chicklet
              BobB Oct 13, 2010 07:20 AM

              Chef - if you read the thread closely you'll see that Soop is not talking about that horrible stuff you buy pre-shredded in plastic bags, he's talking about grating your own hard cheeses at home before you put them into your mouth, as opposed to simply slicing them.

              1. re: BobB
                tommy Oct 13, 2010 07:23 AM

                I don't think he specified hard cheeses.

                1. re: tommy
                  Soop Oct 13, 2010 07:26 AM

                  Not really 'hard' cheeses like parmesan. I was thinking more of cheddar.

                  1. re: Soop
                    giaceats Oct 15, 2010 08:43 AM

                    While we're on the subject of cheese, now for my two-cents-worth. I'm Italian ... always have been, and I have always bought "fresh" parmegiano regiano & had it grated at the store (N.B. Italian stores ONLY!!). Then I divide it into sealable vacuum bags & store it in the freezer for up to a year.
                    You don't fool around with cheese like this that costs a fortune! Vacuum-sealing it this way causes NO (or unnoticeable) deterioration whatsoever in the finest cheese that money can buy. Believe me, if you taste the freshly-grated version & the vacuum-frozen cheese, even a gourmand/gourmet cannot detect the difference in taste or texture. And I know that "chefs" will usually argue the point just for the sake of "arguing the point". (You see, I taught for 33 years at a school that had a culinary institute, and most of those hundreds of chefs were a totally "different" lot!). Many "claim" to know more than you do, but they really DO NOT.

                  2. re: tommy
                    BobB Oct 13, 2010 07:54 AM

                    I suppose "firm cheeses" is a better term, but obviously (well, obviously to me, at any rate) you wouldn't be trying to grate soft cheeses like Bries or triple cremes.

                    1. re: BobB
                      goodhealthgourmet Oct 13, 2010 01:37 PM

                      perhaps not, but you can grate some of the softer, crumbly cheeses like bleu if you freeze them first. i'm not typically a proponent of freezing cheese, but it's a remarkably effective way to manage the texture if you want to grate some over the top of a salad, pasta or risotto dish, or if you need it in uniform pieces for even distribution in things like crust/dough.

                  3. re: BobB
                    gaffk Oct 13, 2010 07:30 AM

                    That's what I thought was meant at first. But then the last sentence about sandwiches and just grabbing it and dropping it in made me think the OP meant the shredded and bagged type of cheese.

                    1. re: gaffk
                      BobB Oct 13, 2010 07:58 AM

                      Good point. Soop clarifies that a bit in his last post about 25 minutes ago.

                      1. re: gaffk
                        Soop Oct 13, 2010 08:40 AM

                        True, when I first posted, I wasn't making a distinction between the two

                        1. re: Soop
                          Harters Oct 13, 2010 10:13 AM

                          I'd also misunderstood Soop and assumed he was talking about the bagged grated stuff you get from the supemarket.

                          Now we're clear that we're talking about the benefits of grating your own, over not grating, then I'd. agree. It would be all but impossible, for example, to make a cheese sauce without grating. And it works better in some sandwiches (I like grated cheese & grated carrot, for example)

                          I'm actually not sure I agree that the taste of grated is better than the non-grated, though. I would much rather put a small lump of cheese in my mouth and chew it than a pinch of grated.

                  4. tommy Oct 12, 2010 08:15 PM

                    This makes no sense to me.

                    1. onceadaylily Oct 12, 2010 07:50 PM

                      I wouldn't use it in a cheese sauce, but I have noticed that the pre-shred melts and *browns* more quickly in an oven dish. I suppose that is because it is drier (that is the downside of the surface area exposed), which doesn't make it taste better, to me, but can give a nice . . . chewiness. If you're in the mood for that. I've had such occasions.

                      1. l
                        LauraGrace Oct 12, 2010 06:23 PM

                        I don't think pre-grated cheese tastes better at all! Huh. I view it as a convenience item only.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: LauraGrace
                          goodhealthgourmet Oct 12, 2010 07:53 PM

                          i think (hope!) the OP was talking about grating cheese oneself, not buying the pre-grated stuff. blech.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            Soop Oct 13, 2010 01:57 AM

                            To be honest, I never knew there was so much of a difference, but for arguments sake, let's just say self-grated.

                            1. re: Soop
                              tommy Oct 13, 2010 06:30 AM

                              I'd be shocked if one wouldn't be able to discern between pre-grated cheese and freshly grated cheese.

                              1. re: tommy
                                gaffk Oct 13, 2010 07:10 AM

                                I disagree tommy. Pre-shredded cheeses always have a dry, almost dusty flavor and texture. I would certainly know the difference between pre-shredded mozz, parm, cheddar, etc. and the fresh stuff. (Why do you think good Italian restaurants will shred fresh parm on your food, while mediocre ones approach with a bowl of already shredded parm?)

                                1. re: gaffk
                                  tommy Oct 13, 2010 07:14 AM

                                  I'm not sure you disagree. Reread my comment.

                                  1. re: tommy
                                    gaffk Oct 13, 2010 08:09 AM

                                    Ah, you wrote "wouldn't" I read "would"--hate when that happens. Sorry . . . I gues I should have written: "I agree tommy" :)

                                  2. re: gaffk
                                    Soop Oct 13, 2010 07:30 AM

                                    While there are some definite differences (pre-grated seems to be thicker grain, but obviously it depends on your cheese grater), and thinking about it, it must be treated somehow so that it doesn't smoosh together.

                                    But looking at the cheddar I've got here, it's really not dusty or anything. It's certainly possible that pre-grated cheeses are processed differently in America than they are in the UK. Never having had American, I can't say, but it doesn't sound quite the same.

                                    Fresh parmesan and powdered parmesan are still a million miles apart though

                                  3. re: tommy
                                    Isolda Oct 16, 2010 09:48 AM

                                    Agree. And pre-grated cheese has a preservative called natamycin (along with the anti-caking agent), and I swear I can taste it.

                            2. Gatogrande Oct 12, 2010 01:32 PM

                              Bleah! Then again, I like coolwhip

                              1. c
                                cheesecake17 Oct 12, 2010 08:58 AM

                                It's certainly easy and quick to buy a bag of pre-grated cheese... but it doesn't always taste the same as freshly grated.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: cheesecake17
                                  beachmouse Oct 12, 2010 09:06 AM

                                  The bag cheeses have a light dusting of corn starch to prevent the strands sticking to each other, IIRC. Generally not enough to bother me, though some may dislike it.

                                  1. re: beachmouse
                                    cheesecake17 Oct 12, 2010 10:18 AM

                                    The coating of corn starch doesn't bother me either. But a pre-grated cheddar is probably not the same quality as a block of cheddar that I would grate myself.. flavor wise.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17
                                      BobB Oct 12, 2010 12:29 PM

                                      Absolutely! All you'll find pre-grated are the lowest quality, most boring cheeses out there - an exception being the quality in-store-grated parmigiano and such that you can find at places like Whole Foods, but even then that's only a good thing if you're going to use it all right away.

                                      Which brings up the freshness factor - all that extra surface area allows the cheese to dry out and lose flavor quickly. Grate your own as you need it, and you control the quality AND the freshness.

                                      1. re: BobB
                                        beachmouse Oct 13, 2010 10:13 AM

                                        My problem is that I'm an incompetent menu planner, and discovered long ago that if I bought a block of fresh mozzarella, there was only about a 50% change that I'd remember to make pizza with it before it went moldy. So the bagged stuff, which has a much longer lifespan before mold, got substituted in the name of reducting kitchen waste.

                                        I figure that since the parmesan I use is fresh-grated the day of pizza-making (it's a much more forgiving cheese if it get shoved into the back of the cheese drawer and forgotten for a while) it evens out the final product.

                                        1. re: beachmouse
                                          cheesecake17 Oct 13, 2010 11:23 AM

                                          I typically buy a brick of mozarella and grate it myself and store in ziplock bags in the freezer.

                                          Lately, though, Costco has been stocking shredded mozzarella (same brand that I buy in bricks) for the same price as the brick. I've been buying that and it works great. It's not very finely shredded but more coarse- like what you'd get from a box grater.

                                          1. re: cheesecake17
                                            tommy Oct 13, 2010 11:34 AM

                                            Presumably this bag of shredded mozzarella includes anti-caking agents.

                                            1. re: tommy
                                              cheesecake17 Oct 13, 2010 11:38 AM

                                              It does, but the cheese doesn't have that weird dry powdery texture. It also melts very well, not in separate shreds like some other brands I've bought.

                                              1. re: cheesecake17
                                                Soop Oct 14, 2010 02:23 AM

                                                I still don't quite understand how that firm mozzerella is related to the proper ball of mozzerella. You talk of a block of mozzeralla - does that have an appearance like cheddar?

                                                1. re: Soop
                                                  cheesecake17 Oct 14, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                  yes- I buy mozarella in a brick- kind of like a brick of cheddar. It comes in giant bricks, and I buy anywhere from 1lb to 6lbs at a time. It's cut into chunks to order in the store. It's the stuff you can get pre-grated but in block form.

                                                  Very different from fresh mozaralla.

                                2. j
                                  juniper77 Oct 12, 2010 08:51 AM

                                  It has its place. But I don't think it's nirvana -- it would be slightly odd to order a cheeseboard and have all the offerings grated....

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: juniper77
                                    Soop Oct 12, 2010 08:57 AM

                                    Oh yeah, that's true. But for a mouthful of cheddar, grated > all

                                  2. h
                                    Harters Oct 12, 2010 08:24 AM


                                    People think it tastes better than non-grated?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Harters
                                      Soop Oct 12, 2010 08:31 AM

                                      Yep. Me included. Try it! :D


                                      1. re: Harters
                                        tommy Oct 14, 2010 02:43 PM

                                        I was in a meeting today with about 30 people. I asked the group if anyone had ever considered that cheese tastes better when it is grated. No one said they'd ever given it any thought.

                                        1. re: tommy
                                          Soop Oct 15, 2010 01:27 AM

                                          Wow, that's really interesting. Thanks for your input.

                                          1. re: Soop
                                            gaffk Oct 15, 2010 05:36 AM

                                            I think some of your sarcasm just oozed onto my desktop ;)

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