Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: Shred Your Own Cheese

July 25th, 2011 · 77 Comments · Monday Missions

grated cheese at home

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to bypass the handy bags of shredded cheese in the supermarket case and shred your own.

Impact Ratings: healthpositive moneyhalf-pos

Level of Commitment: Making Strides

This mission is a little ironic, because although I’ve been mostly shredding my own cheese for a year or two now, in my new state in life, using bagged shredded cheese is one of those compromises I’ve just had to make.

I don’t think commercially shredded cheese will kill us or even really hurt our digestion, unlike some other compromises I’m trying not to make, so it’s an easy one to slide back into while at the in-laws’.

On the other hand, shredding my own cheese does enhance the flavor of dishes, avoid any additives in bagged cheese, and even may be a more frugal option.

What are the Additives in Shredded Cheese?

commercially shredded cheeseWhy bother shredding your own just to avoid the few extra ingredients on the shredded cheese bag?

I was first pushed toward shredding my own cheese long before I had ever heard of soaking grains or raw milk. A friend said that she always shreds her own because of what cellulose is. It grossed her out. I had to look into the issue.

Cellulose, which is the most common extra ingredient in pre-shredded cheese, is used as an anti-caking agent so the cheese doesn’t all stick together in the bag.

It’s made of wood (sometimes cotton).

And I am not a beaver. Or a termite.

According to Wikipedia, cellulose is used in:

  • cellophane
  • rayon (fabric)
  • wallpaper paste
  • insulation
  • paper, card stock
  • …and cheese

What a list! As you might guess from the first five uses, cellulose is largely indigestible. Want a bite?

(There’s some other stuff in there, too, if you’re really interested.)

Shred Your Own for the Taste

I agree wholeheartedly with Heidi of Frantically Simple in her guest post here a few weeks ago, when she told the story of her friend sharing a delicious meal with her – and the key to success was simply home-shredded cheese! Shredding your own cheese really does make a different in the finished dish: meltier, cheesier, and much more full of flavor than when using pre-shredded cheese in a recipe.

How to Shred Cheese at Home

The first time I tried shredding a whole block of cheese, I used the knuckle-grinding standing hand grater method. Not only did it take forever, but I needed to find the Band-Aids when I was finished. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to keep up the habit consistently.

I highly recommend something with a little more machine power and less "chef power" if you have the option.

Instructions:

  1. Place block of cheese into freezer 10-30 minutes (this step helps even softer cheeses become harder and easier to grate)
  2. Either use a hand grater and get a good upper body workout, OR
  3. Cut into large chunks that can be fed into a food processor with a shredder attachment. (recommended)

    Tip: Try to shred cheese when you’re about to use the food processor for a savory dinner dish like chickpea wraps or black bean burgers anyway. If you shred the cheese first, you don’t have to wash the food processor twice!
  4. Once shredded, simply store in the freezer in a plastic zippered bag (a hard-sided box would be fine if you have the space.

The shredded cheese can be used directly from the freezer for either cooked or cold purposes. It thaws quickly – for example, if you sprinkle some on a salad or wrap, it will likely be thawed by the time you get drinks and dressings rounded up.

Shredded cheese will last a few days to a week in the refrigerator, but it will have a problem starting to stick together since you didn’t add any cellulose. Smile

Timesaver: When the bag goes empty, put it back in the freezer empty and reuse it for the next batch of cheese.

For shredding cheese to put directly into soups or as an accent to a meal, especially for something like a block of Parmesan, try using a microplane grater right at the table. The shreds are so thin that most people find you can use less cheese with the same amount of flavor.

Parmesan, by the way, was a huge holdout for me. I was using the green can stuff long after I was shredding my own sharp cheddar. Readers were even chastising me for it!

When I finally gave a real chunk of Parmesan a try, not only was it fun to feel fancy at dinner, I found that Parmesan cheese lasts halfway to forever in the fridge. I didn’t need to worry about it going bad, which was a huge help. I’m a convert! I could even still make my homemade Caesar dressing easily by tossing a chunk into the mini food chopper (like this one) that I was using for garlic and emulsifying anyway.

Frugal Too? Does Shredding Your Own Make More Cheese?

shredded cheese comparison

I’m really not positive, and maybe there’s much to be said for settling, but based on these photos I took a long, long time ago (this Monday Mission has been lying in wait for over two years!), it sure looks like shredding an 8-oz. block of cheese nets you more than buying 8 ounces of shredded cheese in a bag.

Also, since the cheese lends so much more flavor to the dish, you can certainly use a bit less in certain recipes.

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What do you think? Do you shred your own? What are the advantages?

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other?

Added bonus: I think you get more. (photos)


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77 Comments so far ↓

  • Angela

    This is definitely doable! I’ve been buying pre-shredded cheese and plastic shakers of parmesan forever it seems, but this sounds so much healthier and frugal.

    Thanks for the tip Katie! I absolutely love reading your blog!

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  • Candice H

    I used to shred my own cheese just to keep from having to buy so many different kinds since i would only buy a block of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and swiss. Now I know why I should go back to that though! Then I only grated as needed so I was wondering if it sticks together in clumps in the freezer ?
    Oh and I was grating soap this morning for my (non antibacterial) hand soap and made my knuckle bleed :( I might just put food processor on my Christmas list lol

    [Reply to this comment]

    Leanne Reply:

    This self-shredded cheese does sometimes clump (at least for me), but if you freeze it in a bag, it’s pretty easy to break it apart without getting your hands dirty (or, in this case, cheese-y!). :-)

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    Katie Reply:

    Candice,
    Ditto Leanne – if you just freeze it right away, it’s really not that difficult to break apart. I’m guessing you could dust it with arrowroot starch, but I never bother. ;) Katie

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  • KateP

    I have switched over too, actually after hearing Ina Garten recommend it on the Food Network because of the cellulose and it affecting some recipes. I agree that it tastes better. It was a reviled kitchen chore for me that I resisted for years, but I found that if I can get my husband to do two blocks at a time his manly muscles finish the task much quicker and we have cheese for the week usually. :)

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  • HillaryM

    I have been reading your blog for a few months–love it!
    I have read for years to buy chunk cheese and shred yourself because it is cheaper. I have never done it because it is not cheaper for me. I never even thought about the extras in it. yuck! Not to mention that it looks like you are actually getting more, better flavor, etc. Cheddar, swiss etc. I can obtain pretty easily. Parmesan is a bit more difficult. Sometimes I have to buy the “green shaker”. Now that I know, I’ll make the extra effort to find parmesan in a chunk, too. I only have the (knuckle eating)grater box. (Two actually, I keep the one for soap separate, by the washing machine) My mother-in-law has a shredder that cranks, has cones to change out to make slices or shreds and it suction cups to the table. It is not the handheld type they use @ Italian restaurants (similar, though). I may scour garage sales for one of those. I cannot afford a food processor and as part of my emergency prepping I am trying to reduce my dependence upon electricity. Thanks for this Monday Mission!

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  • Adam

    We live in Wisconsin and have access to very cheap blocks of cheese. Pre-shredded stuff just doesn’t cut it. We’ve tried everything to shred them. The food process was too much of a hassle. Our new favorite tool is a Salad Shooter. They aren’t very expensive and make quick work of shredding cheese. So much faster and easier than a food processor.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Heather Reply:

    Exactly! I grew up in Plymouth, headquarters of Sargento, actually (but they’re not the only cheese factory around, by any means!). My mom ran an at-home day care when I was a kid, and one family owned a small cheese factory and kept us supplied, usually with their off-cuts and such. Where I grew up, Kraft singles were not considered to be cheese, and Velveeta was not considered to be food. And good cheese (this was back in the ’80′s, when even mainstream cows still spent their days on pasture) was readily available, so I grew up a cheese snob. Most of the pre-shredded stuff tastes like cardboard, I think.
    Here’s a funny: When my daughter was about 18 months old, someone had left a package of American cheese singles at my house. I gave my daughter one, to see what she would do–this is a kid that loves cheese–bleu cheese, sharp cheddar, parmesan, feta, you name it–she took one bite and looked at me like “Mama, this is NOT cheese.” and had nothing further to do with that piece of cheese.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    Love it! I’m not in the US and wondered for years what American cheese was, and presumed it was one of Wisconsin’s
    famous dairy creations. Sorry, Wisconsin.

    When our kids were small, we were at a BBQ and Kraft singles were being used on the burgers. On the way home we heard the kids refer to it as plastic cheese because of the wrappers. The name stuck.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kathie Reply:

    ADAM, thank you a million times for stating you use the Salad Shooter to shred cheese! I have one of those and when I saw the cutters only at a thrift shop, I quickly bought them to have extras. I was given several 2 pound boxes of American Cheese and after googling shredding American Cheese I’m going to try freezing it (as someone suggested) and then using the Salad Shooter to shred it. Also I read a tip to put a VERY small amount of flour or cornstarch in a bag, dump in the shreds, and shake well. That will keep the shreds from sticking together. Again, THANKS a million!

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  • Barefeet In The Kitchen

    I do shred my own cheese. It really does make a huge difference in the taste. I’m not sure it’s the cheaper option, because honestly, shredded cheese blends are very reasonably priced at Costco. Even if it costs me more though, I still choose to shred.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Heather Reply:

    I shop at Costco a lot, too. The kicker is, while the shredded cheese is reasonably priced for pre-shredded cheese, you are still paying as much per pound as you do for the block of much better quality (and taste!) Tillamook sharp cheddar they sell over with the “good” cheeses. And they don’t have pre-shredded sharp cheddar, anyway. I’m a cheese snob, and buy that Tillamook sharp cheddar for our own basic eating cheese, so buying extra for shredding is fine with us. And shredded block Parmesan (I actually usually buy Costco’s Kirkland brand of Romano) tastes SOOO much better than the canned stuff!
    If you don’t have a food processor, and want an easy & cheap gadget for grating, a Salad Shooter is the bomb. Gets the job done, and doesn’t even make a lot of dishes. I have a small food processor, but I still usually prefer the salad shooter for cheese grating.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Barefeet In The Kitchen Reply:

    I am all about the higher quality cheeses. It just has to be Tillamook for us as well. It’s been quite a while since I compared the prices though. Now I am even happier with my choice. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Brittany

    Great ideas for shredding in bulk and freezing! Now to get a good food processor & attachment…

    I usually just shred as needed, but my mom has been telling me for a while now to shred the whole block and use a little bit of flour (shake once in bag) to keep it from sticking so much in the fridge. So, from what I hear, flour will help with caking prevention!

    This is a frugal option that I often dread, but still feel that it’s worth it. I’m thinking food processor for Christmas :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Beth

    Finally – a monday mission I’m already doing!

    I only use the block cheese because of flavor, and I don’t find it difficult or too time consuming to do this at all.

    Occasionally I will buy pre shredded cheese for our friday pizza nights when I’m in a hurry, and I always end up frustrated with the terrible way it melts! I didn’t know about the added ingredients, but that totally makes sense and is even more reason to not ever buy it again (along with sacrificed quality and increased cost!).

    [Reply to this comment]

  • marcella

    Cheese bought in blocks really does taste much better and honestly, I’m not sure those green cans even contain any parmesan at all. Cellulose is in tons of prepared products. There’s an article online at thestreet.com titled “15 food companies that serve you wood” – scary what people put in their bodies without even realizing it. Wonder what other weird things are in processed foods that we don’t even consider.

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  • Amanda @ Mommy's Idea Book

    I totally agree on the fact that shredding cheese tastes better than out of the bag. Also, I’ve been convinced for a while that I get more cheese out of an 8 oz block than an 8 oz in a bag.

    Thanks for the info. I didn’t know about the cellulose. That’s definitely not very appetizing for sure.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jeanette

    I have shredded my own cheese for a long time now – but my main motivation was the cost. A block of cheese is a lot cheaper than a bag of shredded cheese – plus, then we have the option of slicing it up for sandwiches or cutting it into tiny cubes for a snack.
    now that I know about the cellulose – well, gross. I’ll keep shredding my own cheese. :)

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  • Mary P

    I don’t know that I’ve ever bought pre-shredded cheese. I just never thought about it. I always got blocks. If I needed a lot for a meal, it went into the Salad Shooter (a handy little appliance I use ALL THE TIME).

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  • Laura

    I love when you post a Monday Mission that I’m already doing!! I’ve been shredding my own (I have a food processor and a microplane) for a year or two. I do still keep a mexican blend shredded on hand for those times when I don’t plan far enough ahead. I typically keep colby, mozzarella and cheddar on hand at all times, plus whatever was on sale or I needed for specific meals. I’ve also been planning on ditching the green shaker once I finish up the one I have. Thanks for the added motivation!!!

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  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    Usually I shred my own cheese because I can get hormone-free block cheese from Azure Standard for cheaper than I can get block or shredded from the grocery store. Our local grocery store brand uses potato starch as the anti-caking agent — better than cellulose, but still…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Keri

    I shred my own using the KitchenAid shredder/slicer attachment (basically a motorized version of a cheese grater my parents had when I was growing up that had a hand crank…super fun). Using the KitchenAid it’s super fast and I throw the greater pieces in the dishwasher after (no, I am not sponsored by KitchenAid, but I wish I was!). I also have a microplane I use for harder cheese like parmesan and aged gruyere. Since switching back to doing it myself I find I do use less and it does melt so much better! And tastes better! Bye bye wood pulp!

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  • Keri

    greater=grater. (oops)

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  • Jenni

    I’ve been meaning to do this and keep forgetting… Thanks for the reminder! :)

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  • Kathleen

    I just found your blog via SU! Wow, I’m so glad I did!!! Great post on shredded cheese. I don’t buy preshredded often because I don’t care for the taste but it never occurred to me to do a large batch ahead of time and just freeze it. Brilliant! Thank you :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kathleen,
    Welcome aboard! Anyone who calls KS brilliant should of course stick around… ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Diana

    My mom almost always shredded her own cheese, and I definitely prefer to do it that way. Sometimes if I’m in a hurry and need to throw together a big dish for a potluck or something I’ll cheat, but I much prefer home-shredded!

    Funny story: we had some friends over for make-your-own pizza dinner, and I ended up needing more cheese in the middle of the meal. I pulled out the block of cheese and the grater, and the girl goes, “Oh my word! I don’t even HAVE one of those! Look at that–she grates her own cheese!” :)

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    Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama Reply:

    Wait and see the reaction you get if you MAKE your own cheese, lol! I make mozzarella sometimes and people are always shocked (and it’s really not that hard).

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    Jennifer Reply:

    How do you make mozzarella?

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  • Catherine

    I really want to start doing this! I have been buying 5lb bags of shredded cheese at Sam’s Club to save money, but the quality is average. I am sure I could get a better deal if I bought 5lb chunks. I think I will need to spring for a new food processor with a grating disk, though.

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  • Sarah

    Yep…been shredding my own cheese for about 1-2 years now. I usually have my hubs do it and we often only do it as needed for recipes instead of shredding the whole block at once. But it definitely tastes better (in my opinion) and it’s cheaper. We eat a LOT of cheese in this family (probably too much), so going more frugal is a no-brainer for us!

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  • Peggy

    Until raw, organic cheese comes pre-shredded, I’ll not be tempted to try a bag of pre-shredded cheese! We have a BIG family and eat a LOT of cheese, but many hands make light work. Each of us shreds a block once a week and we store it in the fridge (we freeze the leftovers at the end of the week if there are any.)

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  • Diana

    I’ve been shredding my own cheese as much as possible, and I didn’t realize how much the quality was affected until we bought a big bag of shredded cheese to take camping with us. Ugh. Month later we are STILL working on the bag. And it tastes blech.

    Not to mention that I can get high quality Tillamook cheese for cheaper than bagged stuff!

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  • Ellen

    I definitely prefer to shred my own cheese because of health and flavour… but I can’t agree that it saves money! My Mom pointed out to me once that pre-shredded is a lot cheaper in our grocery store (I’d never bought it because I always assume that convenience food = cost), and I’ve since found that it is almost always cheaper, wherever I shop.

    It’s become one of those ‘I’m ok with it if needed’ compromise things. As additives go, cellulose is not the worst one out there. I do prefer to shred my own for the most part (gaining the flavour and avoiding the additives), but sometimes a whole-foods, homemade kitchen has to give a little in the face of busy family life. So if there’s a crazy week, a big meal we’re hosting that’s cheese-dependent, or some other such thing on the horizon, I sometimes buy shredded.

    Choosing ‘convenience foods’ like this one can leave me time to make, say, homemade whole wheat sourdough tortillas for that fajita meal, or my own granola bars and bread. And I am not willing to compromise on THOSE – the additives in those products are worse, I think, and I hate the loss of nutrient when we buy the processed versions! :-) At least I know that shredded cheese is a convenience food that doesn’t blow the budget!

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    Katie Reply:

    Very true! ) Katie

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  • Carrie

    I was just thinking about this the other day, remembering the crank grater (something like this http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-11370-Classic-Rotary-Style-Cheese/dp/B000FDZJG2/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1311619119&sr=1-1) that we used all the time when I was growing up. It was so easy to just grate as you needed it right onto your spaghetti, tacos, or salad, and you never grated more than you needed. That can be a timesaver because you make everyone (read: the kids) do their own work. :)

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  • Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz

    I’ve been shredding my own for a couple of years now after I looked at the ingredients in the pre packaged shredded cheese. We buy raw milk cheddar and I wouldn’t trade that cheese for anything! I don’t get break outs from it and it digests so much easier than any other cheese I’ve tried :)

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  • LyndaB

    oh, wow. I’ve been shredding my own as a money saver (anytime you’re paying them to do something to your food, you’re paying extra for labor) – but it never dawned on me that the ingredients might not be the same! yuck!

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  • Erin @ what the fork

    I started shredding my own cheese and it tastes so much better and it really melts wonderfully.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Susan

    If you want to keep your shredded cheese from sticking together, try dusting a teeny bit of white flour over the shreds and gently tossing it with your hands until lightly coated. I know, it’s white flour, but at least it’s not cellulose.

    Unfortunately, my kiddos are not crazy about hand shredded cheddar, they think it’s too strong. So they skip it or use the teeniest bit, which means we use even less.;0)

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  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I only buy blocks of cheese, because I want to make sure that it’s real, RAW cheese with no additives. I don’t know of any way to buy raw cheese that comes pre-shredded.

    I only shred as I need it, because we often cut up slices or chunks for snacks more than we use it shredded. Once I pre-shredded half the cheese I bought but it lasted WAY longer than the pieces I simply cut up, because we just don’t use shredded cheese very much.

    Anyway, better prices + raw + in a form we’re more likely to use = perfect. :)

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  • msjodi777

    I used to shred my cheese all the time, until I realized that it was the same price as the bagged cheese (it was at Sam’s Club), so I stopped. I haven’t checked the prices in several years, but will do so. I also don’t like the thought of the additives, so I would say, it’s back to shredding it myself… good thing I kept the knuckle shredder. <

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  • Julie

    Great idea about placing the cheese in the freezer first. I’ve been shredding my own cheese for years b/c the blocks of cheese have better sale prices than shredded bags and never once did I think of putting the block in the freezer first to make shredding easier. Thank you!!!!!

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  • FarmSchooler

    Pre-shredded cheeses are full of starches that will literally set celiac sufferers on end, if ya KWIM. So yes, this is one of the best things we can do for the budget, the flavor (even makes specialty cheeses affordable :o) and our health.

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  • Kristin

    I too started shredding my cheese and love it. my decision was sparked by my desire to use rbgh-free dairy produts and most pre-packaged cheeses do contain it.

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  • Jennifer

    I have been freezing 1 or 2 pound cubes of cheese in my large freezer for years. I find it easier to store blocks over bags of cheese, plus I think it looks better and sometimes its cheaper to buy the block over the bag so when cheese goes on sale I stock up. Cheddar cheese once defrosted has a different texture– it crumbles easy and I almost don’t need to shred it while Parmesan and Colby keeps the firmness and is more or less the same. Frozen cheddar cheese makes for quick crumbled cheese if you defrost the night before. I say ‘don’t pay someone else to do something you can do’. I am glad to see I was right to shred my own all these years. Thanks for the great blog!

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  • Audrey

    I definitely shred my own cheese…. most of the time. I am also in a season of life where it’s far more convenient to pull a bag that I got on sale out of the freezer (Tillamook shredded cheese goes on sale at Fred Meyer sometimes, $1 for an 8 oz bag, and I always get my limit and freeze it for times like these), but I highly prefer to shred my own and freeze it. Especially when blocks of Tillamook go on sale!

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  • Ronnie

    I always shred my own cheese too. The (washed/unwaxed) rind of a chunk of parm is a terrific addition to tomato sauce, soups stewed beans, etc.

    It is also good to portion pre-shredded cheese into smaller packages. As tempting as it is to load a dish with cheese, it isn’t healthy.

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    msjodi777 Reply:

    “As tempting as it is to load a dish with cheese, it isn’t healthy.”

    You had to remind me of this… since I am “older” and need to watch what I eat due to heart condition, I should be glad you reminded me… for some reason, my mouth just thinks you should have kept quiet so my brain would continue on in la-la land… sigh…

    Thanks for the poke in the ribs… <

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    Katie Reply:

    Ronnie and Jodi,
    It’s definitely more expensive to load a dish with cheese, but if it’s good quality, real cheese, I can’t see anything unhealthy about it: real dairy fats are good for you. Read more here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/10/13/a-fat-full-fall-dairy-fats-%E2%80%93-what%E2%80%99s-the-moo/
    Thanks! :) Katie

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  • Susan

    I find if I keep shredded cheese handy it is too easy to add to salads, etc. Also, one day I was making pizza with a friend and she had grated the mozz for us. She said ‘I don’t like buying the pregrated stuff because I don’t like to eat antifreeze’. ick.

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  • Simply Heidi

    It’s so funny you posted this today. I was just this morning telling a friend about my big cheese revelation. Thanks for the mention.
    Just a thought – even if 8 oz of bagged/shredded and an 8 oz block cost the same, the block is still a better value because it is all cheese. A fraction of that 8 oz. ion the bag is not cheese (cellulose).
    Have a great day!

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  • Jennifer Ross

    I don’t think I’ve ever bought shredded cheese ;) It just looks so fake. I’ve used it at homes of family or friends, but it is so different than real cheese I never thought of it as an option.

    I haven’t even looked at the prices, I don’t know if it is less or more expensive that way, but ewww on the pre-shredded plastic cheese ;)

    Fresh cheese ladies!!

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  • melanie

    When I first saw the title of this blog in my inbox, I thought, “How is she going to make an entire post about shredding your own cheese?” Well, Katie, you have done it again. I had no idea about cellulose – YUCK. And I would highly recommend the parmesan cheese chunks from Trader Joes. They are the cheapest real parm that I’ve found. I even shred the hard rind, but my sister-in-law saves the rind to flavor soups. Anyway, well done. Will have to pass this on to my cheese-in-a-bag friends. =)

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  • Sharon

    Awesome post, I really appreciate the “tips” and “timesavers”. I used to shred my own cheese, and I haven’t in a while. I think I might start again. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  • Kelly

    I must be quite a bit older than you because we used the stand up grater even when I was first married. Preshredded wasn’t even a option and then when it was it was way more expensive. Not always the case now, but I’ve been avoiding it because of the additives-our brand has more than cellulose added.

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  • bobcat

    If you hand-shred the EXTRA sharp Cheddar (such as Kraft or Albertsons generic), it tastes AMAZING compared to the bagged, pre-shredded, for some reason. I have been doing this forever, simply because I appreciate taste vs. no taste. ;)

    I have noticed I need very little to add a HUGE flavor boost to my foods, such as my black bean chili. I don’t bother with regular cheddar, because it really offers very little flavor-per-sq inch, so that is just costing me $$$ while adding nothing to my meal.

    I also use the microplane for parmesan. When using that cheese with that grater, I’ll get mountains of parm, and the block barely looks like anything was taken off it! And it makes my Minestrone soup then taste unbeliveable. Aged cheese like parm adds that fifth flavor, umami (there are 4 basic flavors the tongue senses). And the way we use it, it doesn’t cost much at all. I’m sure that plastic shelf parm costs much more.

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  • Karen

    I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this one! Preshredded cheese? Never. Ever. And that is without the information on additives. I’ve never even looked at a package of it in the store, other than a passing (literally) glance as I headed for the block cheese. I’ve seen it advertised on special in fliers, and where I live it is certainly no cheaper, because I can buy block cheese for less than half the price per pound any day of the week. And I can shred what I want in about a minute, or I can slice it in a few seconds, or I can make it into cubes, or squares for crackers, as I need it and all for the same price, without all the packaging.

    As far as I’m concerned this belongs in a special “Sucker!” aisle along with the precooked bacon at triple the price and the vacuum packed preshelled hard cooked pair of eggs marked down to $.30 less than a full dozen raw eggs. Seriously, people?

    As for shredding fingers along with the cheese, the solution is profoundly simple. So simple that a preschooler can grasp the concept. A grater works because it is sharp, so think of it as a group of little knives, and when what you are grating gets small enough that your fingers get close to the little knives, S-L-O-W. D-O-W-N.

    I don’t want to offend anyone, but I really think this is a no-brainer.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    By the way, cellulose is a polysaccharide (glucose) that occurs in the cell walls of plants, not just trees. It’s what keeps them from collapsing and why it works as an anti-clumping agent. It is not digestible, so when we talk about fiber in food, we are usually referring to cellulose.

    So once the preshredded cheese manufacturers realize that people are objecting to the cellulose, don’t be surprised to see information on the label that describes the product as “a good source of dietary fiber”. It is, after all, your money they are after.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Reply:

    Karen-I was thinking the same thing about shredded fingers, but couldn’t figure out how to say it where it sounded nicely put. I think you’ve done it well. I’ve been using one since I was a kid and learned that lesson quickly and just assumed it went along with learning anything else.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    Thank you, I was kind of concerned that I might upset some people. That was how my mother taught me, and I forgot, once. I taught my kids the same way, and I guess they’re brighter than I was because they are in their late teens now, all fingers intact. When they were still quite young, it was one of the things they liked to help with, possibly because they were “flirting with danger” and because they liked the look of the shredded ingredient.

    A clean-up tip for softer cheeses is to very lightly oil both sides of the grater first, in the opposite direction of the shredding action, so the cheese doesn’t stick so much.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kelley

    I am in to make the switch!! Thanks for breaking it down and making it seem so easy! I kept putting this off because I thought it would be more expensive. I am slowly but surely making these changes and I really appreciate the information you put out! Good luck as you transition into a new “normal” life!

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  • Heather

    As long as the quality of the cheese is good, it’s perfectly healthy! Cheese is a great source of dairy, protein, and good fats.
    (If you are still laboring under the “fat and cholesterol in the diet clog arteries” misinformation, I’m sure Katie has some good links around here somewhere. Also, Gary Taubes’ book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” is a good info source)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kayla

    I started shredding cheese this year with my newly purchased grater from Pampered Chef. I like the versatility that a block of cheese offers (I can shred it, cube it, slice it for a cracker). I initially started shredding because I wanted it to be a frugal option (getting more out of a block than a 2 cup bag), but now I find myself buying more artisan cheeses and while it may cost more I’m paying for the quality.

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  • sam

    Yep, I’ve been doing this for the last couple years, even before I really paid attention to what is in it, I compared the taste. Mozzarella was a biggie for me, I love to cut off a chunk & eat it & one day I dipped into the preshredded stuff & about gagged – it was like chewing on wood! I actually just placed an order for some Amish cheese again, I get it in 5# blocks & than shred most of it up & freeze. I think I ordered 30 pounds of different kinds – can’t wait for it to come!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Thankfully Thrifty

    Yes! We just recently started. The wood thing grossed us out too. So unnecessary! Plus let’s be honest – it tastes SO MUCH better! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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