Of all the tools in your kitchen, graters have to be one of the most frustrating.They’re a pain to use, and they’re even more of a pain to clean. But they don’t have to be! Read on for tips on the best way to avoid clumpy, uneven cheese and messy clean up.
Using the Grater.
Freeze the Cheese. The colder the cheese, the better it grates. Stick the block in the freezer for about 30 minutes before grating, and you’ll avoid all those annoying clumps. Even softer cheeses, like mozzarella and fontina, will grate really well if you freeze them first. At the very least, avoid grating cheese that’s been sitting out at room temperature.
Oil the Grater. To avoid the messy clean up and end up with more evenly-grated cheese, lightly mist the grater with cooking spray, or, using a paper towel, dampen with oil.
Cleaning the Grater.
Clean It ASAP. Letting a grater sit out just dries out the cheese, and makes it more difficult to dislodge any stuck-on bits. Try washing it right away to avoid the hassle.
For Really Soft Cheese: If a lot of cheese bits have stuck to the grater, you can dislodge them immediately by rubbing a lemon wedge on both sides.
… And If You Didn’t Clean it Immediately? There’s still hope for procrastinators! A couple of good methods:
- Grate an apple or a potato. These will help dislodge the dried cheese bits.
- Use a toothbrush or a nylon brush to clean the small holes, not a sponge.
- Wash the grater against the grain to avoid grating your sponge as well.
- If the stuck-on bits really aren’t coming off, soak the grater in a solution of vinegar (or baking soda) and water before cleaning.
- Freezing the dirty grater will make the dried-on bits come off more easily.
A Word on Dishwashers. Though they do make the job of cleaning a grater much easier, dishwashers can dull the blades and stain the metal of your grater. As with knives, dull blades are actually less safe to use. But, unlike knives, cheese graters are a lot more difficult to sharpen. If you want your grater to last as long as possible, avoid putting it in the dishwasher.
Get a Better Grater. I’m obsessed with my Microplane — and I’m not the only one! It’s a lot easier to use, it’s a lot easier to clean, and it actually produces really good-quality grated cheese. Cook’s Illustrated gives its highest markings to Rösle’s coarse grater. Anyone else want to share their recommendations for awesome graters?