Every kitchen needs a cheese grater. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.





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STEPHANIE ZONIS focuses on good foods and the people who produce them. KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



September 2007
Updated July 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Grated Cheese: It’s Great To Grate

Page 2: Can You Freeze Grated Cheese? Yes!


This is Page 2 of an eight-page article on grated cheese. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.


Buying Pre-Grated Cheese (Don’t!)

Please don’t buy cheeses pre-grated. First, you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting there. The best flavor comes from freshly grated cheese, not that which has been drying out (that’s why at the finest Italian restaurants, the waiter grates the cheese freshly onto your dish). Equally as important, unless you see the brand on the rind, you don’t know that you’re getting a genuine D.O.P. product. You can easily be getting a lower-quality cheese with less flavor, while you pay a high premium for the “convenience.” Cheese takes almost no time to grate, especially if you have one of the terrific graters that are readily available.

Freezing Pre-Grated Cheese

While some people report freezing grated cheese with less than stellar results, others (including us) do it all the time and are very pleased. Grated cheese can actually be frozen more successfully than whole cheese.

  • The problem with defrosting whole cheese is that the texture changes and the cheese will flake; with grated cheese, flaking obviously isn’t a problem!
  • Use a fine grate rather than large curls; and store the cheese in an airtight container, not a plastic bag. We are told, but have not put to the test, that a small metal canister works best to keep out moisture. We find that a Tupperware-type container works well.
  • If you like the result, you’ll always have a tablespoon of delicious, quality grated cheese to enliven eggs, pasta, salads, soups, vegetables—anything!
  Parmigiano And Grater
Photo of Parmigiano-Reggiano and grater, courtesy of Umami Information Bureau, UmamiInfo.com. Parmesan is a great umami food. Read more about umami.

Along the same lines, although it should go without saying, pre-grated shelf-stable cheese that comes in shaker tins or jars has as much to do with Parmigiano-Reggiano—or any real cheese—as Velveeta has to do with Cheddar. We suggest that it is better to do without, than to put such artificial flavors on your food!

Grating Versus Shaving Cheese

All of the featured cheeses can be grated or shaved—you’ll see an example of both in the photos in this article. When should you grate versus shave the cheese?

  • In general, if you want something to blend in thoroughly, as in a soup or stew, the dressing of a Caesar salad, or a pasta you want to toss, grate the cheese.
  • If you want it to be a garnish or stand-alone ingredient that can be eaten separately with a fork, shave it. You can shave the cheese as a garnish on top of the soup, stew, Caesar salad or pasta as well.

Cheese Graters

If you get only one grater, we recommend purchasing one of the first two, which offers a choice of a fine and coarse grates. You may also want to pick up a cheese shaver.

Zyliss Cheese Grater Box Grater Microplane Grater
Zyliss Cheese Grater. We have one of these at THE NIBBLE offices, and love that it spares knuckles and fingertips from contact with the grating surface. Just pop the piece of cheese in and turn the handle. It’s easy and fun. Click here for more information. Kitchen Aid Box Grater. An improvement on the original box grater, here the grater can sit atop the storage container for neatness. Grate right into it; if you want to store your grated food, just snap on the lid. Click here for more information. Microplane Grater-Fine. Many people enjoy the ease of using the newer microplane graters—the long handles provide leverage. You’ll want a basic fine grater for finely-grated cheese. If you have space, get a medium or coarse-grater as well. Click here for more information.


Continue To Page 3: Cheese Comparison Chart

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