BABY STEPS TUESDAY

GRATE YOUR OWN CHEESE

Happy Tuesday, all.

Our next baby step to tackle is grating your own cheese instead of buying pre-shredded cheese.  In our very busy world, the convenience of buying cheese already grated seems like a real time saver.  And there are so many varieties to choose from, like Mexican blend, 4 cheese blend, Italian blend and many more. But are we trading off our health for convenience?  Plus, are we paying more for this convenience than if we did it ourselves?

There are several good reasons to grate your own cheese.  First it costs less to buy the block of cheese than the pre-shredded kind.  An 8 oz. block of cheese costs less than an 8 oz. bag of shredded cheese. Plus, if you shred the 8 oz. block, you end up with more cups of cheese than if you buy an 8 oz. package of pre-shredded, which is typically 2 cups.

Did you know that manufacturers have put additives in your shredded cheese?  Things like potato starch, cellulose and natamycin. If you remember a previous FYI Thursday, I discussed cellulose – it is made from wood and cotton fiber.  It and potato starch are used to keep the cheese from clumping.  Natamycin is a mold inhibitor made from a “dirt mold.”  Since all three of these additives are derived from “natural” items found in nature, don’t assume they are natural.  I just think they are things we can live without especially if there is a more natural alternative.  Block cheese has no need for additives that keep it from clumping and a mold inhibitor to keep the anti-clumping agents from causing mold.

The block cheese tastes better anyway.  It is naturally richer tasting and has a creamier texture when being melted.  You can test this yourself.  If you have some pre-shredded cheese in your frig, compare it to a bite of block cheese – same type of cheese, for instance comparing mild cheddar to mild cheddar and  sharp cheddar to sharp cheddar. And freshly grated cheese melts more smoothly than commercially shredded cheese.

You don’t have to grate the whole block at one time.  You can grate the amount you need for whatever you are cooking.  But if you do decide to grate it all at one time, put the excess in an air tight zip lock bag or a storage container and keep it refrigerated. Freshly grated cheese should last a couple of weeks.  If you do not intend to use it that quickly, freeze it.  Frozen cheese is just fine to use in cooked dishes.  It really isn’t good for topping your tacos or using in a salad.  Leave the freshly grated cheese for those dishes.

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman on the Cooking Channel agrees that a person should grate their own cheese.  If it goes further, tastes better and is less expensive than the pre-shredded stuff, then you should give it a try.

That’s our baby step for today – grate your own cheese.

Bye for now.

Debbie

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