Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cheese grating day

As we phased out industrial prepared foods from the menu, one of the most important ingredients turned out to be cheddar cheese. It is delicious, inexpensive, and goes on lots of our favorite meals. There are nine eaters at our table, meaning everything is done in large quantity. We just bought 30 lbs of sharp cheddar from Sam's Club last week, in the form of 5 lb blocks. (At the same time we bought 36 lbs of butter, but that's another story.)

Most of this cheese will end up grated. Grating large quantities of cheese calls for sturdier tools than you might expect. An ordinary food processor balks at the soft, high-friction material; we have burned out a couple of them already. Nowadays we use a King Kutter, a manual crank rotary grater that you might expect to see in a Lehman's catalog. It is very sturdy, and the only motor to burn out is your right arm. Grating 25 lbs of cheddar is about my limit. We slice the blocks lengthwise using a guitar string, and each two-and-a-half pound slab when grated fills a gallon Ziploc bag. 

The only caveat to the King Kutter is that it leaves a 1/8 strip of ungrated cheese the length of the block; this is because of the design and cannot be avoided. We just break it up and save them for nibbling. It's a small price to pay for avoiding grated knuckles. Cleanup is a snap; wash the bowl, cone, handle and suction-base. We also grate parmesan with a finer toothed cone; one five pounder lasts for a long time. We usually grate cheese once every six weeks or so.