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Grated cheese

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.

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  1. Eh?

    People think it tastes better than non-grated?

    4 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        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

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

          1. re: Soop

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

      2. 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

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

        2. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                      1. re: tommy

                        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

                          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

                            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. Bleah! Then again, I like coolwhip

            1. 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

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

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  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

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

                    1. re: tommy

                      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

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

                        1. re: tommy

                          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

                          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

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

                  2. 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. This makes no sense to me.

                      1. 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

                          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

                            I don't think he specified hard cheeses.

                            1. re: tommy

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

                              1. re: Soop

                                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

                                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

                                  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

                                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

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

                                  1. re: gaffk

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

                                    1. re: Soop

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

                                :-)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Maximilien

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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

                                      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. 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

                                      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

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

                                    2. 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.