Monday, November 11, 2013

Stocking Up: Shredded Cheese

I have big news. Arguably bigger than yesterday's big news that I had finally finished weeding the garden (teehee...I just wanted to make that official again--I finished it!!). Today, I discovered the perfect temperature at which to fry a grilled cheese sandwich. As much as I love me a grilled cheese and chili lunch combo, the dilemma of how to get that perfectly crunchy, golden-brown exterior while actually melting the cheese at the same time has had me pulling my hair out for years. But I found the right temperature today, and it's called "The one little notch right in between Medium and Med-Lo". You all know my secret now. I actually just polished up that beautifully browned sammich. It was delish. 

But all that really doesn't have anything to do with today's post. Except the cheese. Totally relevant. 

Today's post is about how I hate grating cheese by hand. True story. It's also about how Tanner and I eat way more than our fair share of cheese in a given week. These two statements don't really compliment each other, you'll notice. But once upon a time, I was given an idea by a sister that had the very same issue. 

While there is always the option to buy gargantuan sized bags of shredded cheese, it has never seemed like a terrific one to me because on average, the difference between shredded and non-shredded cheese of the same brand is about $0.25 per pound. That may not seem like a lot, but seriously...we eat a lot of cheese. It adds up. The other issue with buying shredded is that Sam's Club (where I do the majority of my shopping) tends to carry one brand of it--the kind that's first cousins to individually wrapped slices of cheese. In other words, it may have met a cow once, but they never had a lasting relationship. Taking these two factors to mind, I decided that it was probably worth it to buy five pound bricks.

The first couple times I brought home a block, I subconsciously tried dodging all the recipes in my book that involved any sort of cheese. That meant we basically got to live of Ramen noodles. It was not a happy time in our history. Then, Kirstyn reminded me that I had this super cool KitchenAid with a shredding attatchment on it.

Oh. My. Word.

So now, instead of shredding cheese for every meal, I have a handy stash of baggies of shredded cheese sitting in my freezer just begging to be used! 

This is what I start out with after every shopping trip. 

And this is my beastly mixer plus the shredding attachment. (When Kirstyn does this, she uses an electric hand grater that's much cheaper. You don't have to have one of these bad boys.)

I also use a $15 scale from Target for this project. I figured out somewhere that four ounces is equivalent to one cup of cheese in cooking, so instead of packing cheese into a measuring cup and then transferring it to a bag, I just weigh my baggies so each one is pretty close to four ounces. Kirstyn uses the cup method, so it apparently doesn't effect anything. Whichever floats your boat! Oh, also...I recommend using an actual cheese knife. The one in the picture is what I use because I'm too cheap to buy one, but it's a lot of not fun to use. 
I'd assume you all know how to grate cheese, so I won't offend you by going into too much detail. First, you do this...turn it on, etc.                                                                    And you end with a great big pile of cheese! Weigh it out into four ounce piles (or however you decide to do it)...
And package it up! Again, do it however you want to. I'm not exactly being eco-friendly by using this many baggies, but it works for me, for now! Kirstyn uses the square Gladware containers that can be washed and reused, although she reminded me to say that it's not so much her green side doing this as her frugal side-- she gets tired of throwing away and bags and having to buy more.  :-)

By the way, different cheeses behave differently when frozen.  Cheddar, for example, can be frozen in a big gallon ziploc bag (saving those throw aways) and it easily breaks apart from other shreds, so you can just grab a handfull.  Softer cheese, like mozzarella or pepperjack, isn't quite so forgiving, so it's more worth the effort to divvy it into appropriate portions before freezing.

I'm so glad I figured out this out. I don't freak out whenever Tanner requests something like home made mac'n'cheese anymore. And Harley loves cleaning up after me every time I shred! It's a win for everyone involved!

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  1. There's a trick to keeping the shredded cheese from clumping together -- something about coating it with a little cornstarch, I think. 'Course, if you spring for the organic cornstarch, there goes the price of your shredded cheese.

  2. I love cheese! I always have been afraid to freeze it in case it changed the flavor or texture.

  3. I'm lazy. We buy shredded cheese on sale.