Value of Cheese Slicers, Graters

Times Staff Writer

It's been often said that professional cooks use fewer and more basic tools than amateurs. The most tedious carving task, down to the simplest slicing of cheese, can be competently dealt with by a good, sharp knife. What then are the reasons for owning a cheese wire slicer? The time-tested proof of this tool's continuing existence is its ability to produce uniform thin slices of cheese of varying firmness. It cuts neatly, avoiding problems of sticking or crumbling that often occur with a knife.

When it was first discovered that piano wire not only made music but served as an efficient cheese cutter as well, other cheese-slicing gadgets followed suit. Today, the selection ranges from the original long cheese wire attached to two little wood handles, used for looping around large wheels of cheese, to rolling wire cutters that vary in quality of handles.

On a more sophisticated level, Danish cheese slicers with cutting wires attached to a lever mounted on attractive wooden boards or marble slabs have also also cut through the realm of cheese gadgetry.

Detachable, Adjustable

To add to the convenience, some wire cutters, single or attached to a board, now have a gauge for adjusting thickness of the cheese. The Adjustable Cheese Slicer featured here is heavier, sturdier-looking than other types in the market. With a chrome-plated gauge handle, it has a detachable stainless steel wire cutter and an adjustable high-polished aluminum roller.

Another tool in cheese preparation that has been of important service to the cook is the grater. If you're familiar with the four-sided grater-shredder-slicer, an upscaled edition of that is the Greater Grater. Certainly not the Rolls Royce of grating tools--now that there are electric cheese graters, deluxe cheese graters, food processors with grating/shredding discs--the Greater Grater offers practical functions.

A graduated see-through acrylic panel on one side enables you to measure (from 1/4 cup to 2 cups) as you grate or shred. To catch the shreds is a white acrylic base that is removable so you can neatly dump the food into a container. The shredding, grating and slicing panels are made of stainless steel, and the handle is made of white plastic.

Somewhat Reliable

The measures in the grater are somewhat reliable as long as one doesn't pack down the food. A brief gentle shaking is all that's needed to level the top. However, for food items that require accurate measurements, as when making souffles or cakes, the weight of the ingredient would be a better gauge to avoid errors. Although dishwasher-safe, prolonged use of the Greater Grater will cause some clouding of the graduated panel, like many things made of plastic or Plexiglas.

The Adjustable Cheese Slicer has a suggested retail price of $7, and the Greater Grater, $6.50. Both are available at kitchen specialty shops.

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