I owe my husband an official apology.
He has always hated pre-grated cheese. You know the kind you buy at the store that is all grated for you. He claimed it didn’t melt as well as block cheese. I could see his point, but I just thought he was being a food diva. (Legend has it that he once stormed out of a Baskin Robbins because they ran out of sugar cones.)
Because I was a busy mom, I was willing to sacrifice the perfect melt for the convenience of pregrated cheese. And I thought my husband was being a little selfish. It sure is easy to criticize food when you aren’t the one that has to do the work.
But it turns out my husband was right all along.
Pre-grated cheese doesn’t melt as well as block cheese because it has more than just cheese in it. The food companies add anti-caking agents to the pregrated cheese so that it won’t clump together. In some cases they add cellulose and in others, it is potato starch. Either way extra ingredients are added to the cheese. Here is a picture of the ingredient label from a pregrated package.
The jury is out whether these extra additives are really that harmful for you. Cellulose is tree fibers. Some say cellulose is just added fiber while others say we are not termites and are not meant to eat tree bark. All I know is I am uncomfortable with foreign matter being added to my food. If I want to eat cheese, I just want to eat cheese.
So I have ceased my pregrated cheese buying habits. Now I buy the big block and preshred it myself. Then I freeze it. Because I still want the convenience of one less step at dinner time.
Although I had given up the green can with the crumbly Parmesan a while back, I still bought the preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese. But even that has extra ingredients, so I broke down and bought a small block of Parmesan cheese for our noodle dishes.
I used a small hand cheese grater to grate it. And I store it in a little baggie in the fridge. It actually lasts quite a while.
Perhaps the hardest habit for me to give up was the Mexican cheese blend from Costco. It has a nice blend of cheeses and it was so easy to just sprinkle some on a tortilla for the kids at lunch or throw it on our tacos.
So I decided to try my own Mexican mix. I read the cheeses on Costco’s Mexican blend and tried to duplicate it. Their blend is Monterey Jack, Cheddar Cheese, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero Cheese.
I didn’t even know some of those were real cheeses until I started looking. I searched in several stores and never did find Asadero but I did find Quesadilla. It is kind of expensive and sometimes the store is out so I don’t always use it in my own blend.
Instead I went with Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack (my husband and son like a little kick), and just a bit of some orange cheddar.
I try to use the orange cheddar sparingly because orange cheese is more processed than white cheese. Cheese is supposed to be white so to get it orange that means they had to add color.
We shred all the different cheeses up using the Bosch food processor. I prefer the smaller blade for a finer shred. I dump all the cheeses in the biggest bowl that I own and mix them together.
Then I transfer our own Mexican blend to Ziploc bags. I usually keep one bag in the fridge and one or two in the freezer.
I find that my kids are very willing to help with the cheese grating. Something is so rewarding about pushing down that “pusher thing” on the cheese. And of course there is the cheese poop left over to eat after. Here is one my “cheesy” helpers:
I ain’t going to lie. I kind of miss just throwing bags of shredded cheese into my cart. Grating cheese takes a little more time and work, but in the end it is cheaper and healthier to buy cheese in block form and then shred it ourselves.
I am sorry, Chad. You were right. Please accept my humble and official apology.