Photo: Shutterstock / StepanPopov
On the menu tonight: Grandma’s famous baked ziti. While you’re at the store picking up ingredients, you reach the dairy aisle…and stop. Your recipe clearly calls for grated cheese, but should you buy a whole block of it or a bag of the pre-shredded kind? Does it really make a difference either way?
Turns out, there are some surprising reasons why you should grate your own cheese by hand.
1. It melts more smoothly.
Pre-grated cheese contains preservatives like potato starch and natamycin, meant to keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag. That also means they don’t melt together as well when cooking. Freshly grated cheese lacks those additives so your bacon cheese dip will turn out less clumpy and much smoother.
2. You get more for your money.
An 8 oz block of cheese yields more grated shreds than an 8 oz bag of pre-grated cheese, making it a much better choice for anyone on a budget or looking to get the most bang for your buck. Remember, too, that when you buy the pre-grated cheese, you’re paying extra for the convenience.
3. It tastes better.
Since freshly grated cheese doesn’t contain added preservatives and chemicals and since you’re shredding it on the spot, it will have a fresher, creamier taste. And fewer additives is always a healthier option.
Bonus; It’s an arm workout.
Tone up those triceps and biceps! A little manual labor (the back and forth motion of pressing the cheese firmly against the grater) in the kitchen is a great way to work out while cooking (two birds, one stone!).
Keep in mind that not all pre-grated cheese is equal, either, though. If you must go with the pre-grated option, look to see if your grocery store grates it onsite. These fresher options usually have fewer preservatives and will work better than super-processed bagged counterparts.
All in all, grating your own cheese by hand isn’t the most fun, but it can be well worth it when you’re digging into a pile of gooey macaroni and cheese or ladling a bowl of creamy spinach soup. So grab your grater, pick up a block of your favorite cheese and get to work!