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You know the scenario: You grate the cheddar until you're left with a quarter-inch. What do you do? Try to grate it and risk cutting your knuckles, or pop it in your mouth and enjoy?

Usually I do the latter, but I wondered if anyone has any tips for grating cheese down to the last bit?

Is there some kind of small tool that you can use to safely grate the last of a block?

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3  
I just eat the last bit... –  Eclipse Jul 14 '10 at 19:04
    
I love cheese, but if I have to grate several blocks, I'd just as soon use it all and not necessarily be eating all of the last bits. :) –  JYelton Jul 15 '10 at 1:21

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

By the wording of the question, I'm pretty sure you're using one of those pyramidal graters or a "sheet" grater.

That's great for getting the "bulk", but if you want to grate a small amount of cheese (or the last bit of a large amount, if you don't want to just eat it) then you really need to get yourself a rotary grater. They're more commonly used for fine/hard cheeses such as Parmesan, but most half-decent ones will come with a "coarse" blade that can be used for cheddar, mozzarella and so on.

Rotary graters all have a plate at the top that lets you push the cheese down onto the blade. Higher-quality graters will give you slightly better results; the $10 cheap ones tend to leave a mush at the bottom that's hard to grate, even if you squeeze really hard, but that's easily remedied with a small wooden block or really any object at all to put between the top plate and the cheese you're trying to grate.

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That's correct, it's a pyramid type. I do have a rotary parmesan cheese grater; the thought to get a coarse blade for it didn't occur to me. An excellent suggestion without a lot of expense. –  JYelton Jul 13 '10 at 16:45

I bought a pair of kevlar gardening gloves for this exact sort of thing (and for using my mandoline without hacking off any (more) of my thumb).

With those, you can run it all the way down to the bottom and not worry about your fingers. And when they get grotty, you can throw 'em in the washer.

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Some mandolins have an additional attachment that acts like a "pusher block" - a piece of material used to push wood through a shaper or saw without getting one's fingers too close to the blades. Using one of these, you grate it down to the point that you've only got a bit left, then put the pusher on top of it and grate all the way down to nothing. (The block rides on the edges of the mandolin so that it doesn't come in contact with the blades.) –  GalacticCowboy Jul 13 '10 at 17:16

You can turn that last quarter-inch sideways and grate until you have only a thin stick of cheese left.

If it's only going to be melted anyway, you could just crumble the last stick in.

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I don't know of a tool, but what I tend to do is grate one way until there is only a bit left, say 2cm deep (by however long the block was), then I rotate the piece so it is against the grater lengthways, then grate until I have 2cm again, then rotate again so the longest side is sticking out away from the grater, and grate again. Whilst this doesn't mitigate the issue, it does mean that you end up with a much smaller block which is ungrated, as you have grated it in each dimension until you can't get any closer.

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Crumble it in, or just forget about grating cheese at all and just do some high-speed paper thin slices with your handy kitchen knife and block. Tip grounded on the block, fingertips tucked in, and chop away. By time you get a grater, mandolin, or Cuisinelf 3000 Turbomatic's fiddly little bits cleaned, you could have long since been serving up that cheese. The knife has had about 100,000 years of R&D to get it to it's current shape. It really can't be much improved upon (except by a whetstone!).

BTW, it may be ugly, but some starch sure helps when handling cheese!

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I just hold the cheese closer to the edge away from the grater. When it gets really small I just have a single finger on it to grate. Though sometimes I just pop it in my mouth too :D

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