I’m willing to bet you already have a cheese grater somewhere in your kitchen, but maybe you don’t use it as much as you’d like. If that’s true, you’re not alone. Many home cooks ditch their cheese graters because they can sometimes be messy to use. And while you can still grate cheese without a grater, nothing compares to the ease of using this awesome kitchen tool (okay, maybe only a food processor, but not all of us have one). Today, I’m showing you a guide on how to use a cheese grater the smart way—minimal mess and no cuts or accidents.
1. Get a Good Grip on Your Cheese Grater
It’s very important that you get a tight grip on your cheese grater. A slippery handle is a sure recipe for disaster. That’s why picking an ergonomic model that’s easy to hold is the way to go.
This isn’t usually a massive problem with most kinds of cheese graters, except for box graters. If yours gets too hard to use standing upright, there’s a popular “secret” in the home hacks community that might just help you out. Lay your box grater on its side, with the holes you’re going to use facing up. Then, slide your cheese block horizontally, sideways. You’ll get perfectly grated cheese with minimum room for injuries.
2. Hold the Block of Cheese Firmly
That said, you’ll always need a firm hold of the cheese block, no matter what type of grater or method you follow. I recommend using large blocks of cheese when you’re using a Microplane or box grater. It’s just easier to avoid shaving your knuckles this way.
3. Consider Partially Freezing Your Block of Cheese
Freezing your cheese block also helps, especially if you want to grate softer cheeses (such as mozzarella and cheddar). It will help them firm up and stay together when you start grating. This means you’ll have less of a mess to clean up afterward and that the shreds of cheese will look more even in size. Putting the block of cheese in the freezer for thirty minutes will do the trick.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to do this for hard cheeses such as parmesan cheese. Cured cheeses are hard enough as is.
4. Use the Best Grater Plate for the Task at Hand
Microplane cheese graters and rotary graters are the most straightforward to use and only come with one grating plate. In other words, you can’t choose what size shreds you want. The same typically goes for a food processor. Box graters, however, are a whole different story, and this tip applies specifically to them. Remember, you can always apply cooking spray to the plates to help the cheese not stick to them.
You’ll notice that on one of the sides of your box grater there is at least one wide rectangular-shaped hole. It’s probably the most under-utilized feature of graters, but it’s still very useful. By sliding a block across the hole, you get long, thin slices of cheese just as you would with a cheese slicer. These strips of cheese go perfectly on top of a salad.
You probably don’t need me to tell you what these large holes are for. This is by far the most popular feature of graters, so we’ll leave it at that. If you’re trying to shred a very soft cheese (such as fresh mozzarella), this side of the box grater will work well for that task.
If you still want to tell the shreds apart but don’t want them so chunky, use this side of your grater. It’s especially handy when you’re cooking Italian food and want to sprinkle some cheese on top of your pasta dishes.
Lastly, we have the spikey holes. They’re the smallest on any grater and are perfect for hard cheeses, such as parmesan cheese. Use these holes to turn your block of cheese into a deliciously light powder-like mountain of goodness.
5. Clean Your Cheese Grater Right Away
No matter if you have a rotary grater, a Microplane cheese grater, or a box grater, you need to clean it right after you use it. Fortunately, I’ve already written an extensive guide on how to clean a cheese grater—it’s easier than it seems!
Bonus Tip: Get Even More Done With the Grater
Grating cheese isn’t everything you can do with a grater! Did you know you can shred veggies, grate potatoes for hash browns, make bread crumbs from stale bread, and whip up tomato sauce using the side with the large holes? And if you use the small holes you can finely grind citrus zest, ginger, nutmeg, and chocolate for a dessert garnish? The possibilities are endless!