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Why I’ll Never (Ever!) Buy Shredded Cheese Again

Why I’ll Never (Ever!) Buy Shredded Cheese Again

Why I’ll Never (Ever!) Buy Shredded Cheese Again

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There are plenty of everyday staples you might spot in my grocery basket during any odd grocery trip. One thing you’ll never, ever, ever find? Bags of shredded cheese. I mean it. I trust pre-shredded cheese as far as I can throw it (and that most often means right into the trash).

I’m no stranger to a good shortcut. (I recommend you bring any one of these to your next potluck.) I also firmly believe grabbing a block of cheese at the store is criminally underrated — and not only for how good it tastes. In fact, the taste is only the tip of the cheesy iceberg of why I am a major player for Team Cheese Block. (I’m a former cheesemonger, which means I’ve sampled hundreds of blocks, wheels, wedges, and, yes, shreds.)

Here are a few more reasons why shredded cheese will never make its way into my shopping cart. 

1. Shredded cheese has a coating that makes it way less melty.

In order to keep shreds, well, in their individually shredded form, manufacturers add a coating (often cellulose, aka wood pulp) that keeps the cheese from glomming back together. While you can’t necessarily taste these anti-caking agents, to me, it definitely affects the texture and, quite ironically, the meltability. People are even washing their shredded cheese before use to mitigate the effects!

Some of those very same people buy shredded cheese because they think it’s easier to melt over casseroles, tacos, and nachos. I get it, there’s more surface area per shred that can, in theory, heat up more quickly. Unfortunately, that is not the reality we are living in because cellulose actually keeps cheese from melting. It’s a no for me, dog.

2. You often can’t tell if you’re getting the good stuff. 

Shredded cheese, especially store-brand bags, are the “mystery meat” of cheeses. Not knowing the maker or origin of a cheese is crucial missing information you can taste when comparing the shredded equivalent of a cheese to its block form (especially when choosing between protected cheeses, like Gruyère or Parmigiano Reggiano).

In other words, yes, that bag says it’s an “Italian-Style Blend,” but what does that even mean? Personally, I’d rather get a block of a truly Italian cheese, like burrata, or Parmigano Reggiano, over a mysterious blend of asiago, mozzarella, and Parm for my lasagna, pizza, or tortellini.

3. Shredded cheese is way less versatile.

In my cheesemonger-ing days, customers often shied away from buying blocks unless they were for cheese boards. Those same blocks are just as delicious in any other cheesy dish you’re making at home, including slicing for sandwiches, shaving slices for pizza and omelets, and grating over pasta. Can you say the same of shredded cheese? No. 

Plus, you can cut down on shredding time in a food processor (I’m partial to my nutribullet Triple Prep.), or customize your shreds using different sides of a box grater.

4. Shredded cheese is often the same price (or more) than a block of cheese. 

Block cheeses might seem fancy and costly, but many of them come in a variety of sizes and often at a bargain. Don’t let the price per pound shock you! Shred a block and you’ll find that more often than not, those shreds are not too far off in price from their pre-shredded counterparts. Some lower-cost cheeses (like Gouda, Havarti, and some cheddars) are my favorites for buying in blocks to save some clams on my grocery bill.

5. You miss out on a world of other cheeses. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Opting for pre-shredded cheeses takes all the fun out of cheese. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find those “Wow, I didn’t realize I liked that” moments when picking up the same ol’ bag of Parm or cheddar — especially when most stores only stock five different blends (max). Where’s the delicious discovery? The sense of novelty? The magic? It will not be found in one of those bags! 

You could be so close to learning you prefer Irish over English cheddars in your grilled cheeses and not even know it! Of course, a shredded cheese is convenient, but life could be a whole lot more flavorful if you take just a bit more time to explore the block side of things. Plus, there’s a cheesemonger nearby who would love to introduce you to your new favorite cheese. 

Do you buy shredded cheese? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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