I’m always ready for an impromptu cheese spread situation, party or not, and often find myself whipping up a noteworthy board for dinner when I'm not in the mood for a full-on meal—especially on warmer evenings. Or really, whenever I please nowadays as my kitchen cabinets and drawers are filled with an overload of cheesewares and tools.
Trekking through the Netherlands with Anna Juhl of Cheese Journeys and Betty Koster of Fromagerie L’Amuse opened my eyes to a whole new world of cheese cutlery. Yes, cheese cutlery is a real thing. And no, it’s not a gimmick. Boska, a cheeswares company in the Netherlands, has been creating cheese tools since 1896 and not just for fashion. Specific knives, graters and slicers are designed with specific cheeses in mind to work in tandem with everything from texture to thickness to pungency. And they’re life changing if you enjoy cheese on the regular.
Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated
First things first: Dig into your cutlery drawers as you’ve most likely received a set of cheese knives in the past that are waiting patiently for the next supper club or dinner party. If so, dust them off immediately. Here’s a complete guide on what they are and how to use them.
Hard Cheese Knife
Hard cheeses like Parmesan, aged Gouda and Romano can be challenging to maneuver on a board. “You don't cut a hard or very hard cheese,” says Anneloes Hetebrij, the U.S. Managing Director of Boska Holland. “You break it!” Use the sharp point of the knife to pierce the cheese and watch as it effortlessly breaks into bite-sized crumbles.
Soft Cheese Knife
Feta, Brie, ricotta, Camembert, chevre, Roquefort and gorgonzola are a few of the most popular soft cheeses. Boska offers several styles of soft cheese knives, including popular Soft Cheese Knife Monaco and Soft Cheese Knife Copenhagen No. 1, among others. “Thanks to the narrow and thin blade, this knife will cut up your cheeses into little slices and blocks, just the way you want it,” says Hetebrij.
Semi-Hard Cheese Knife
In-between cheeses such as cheddar, Havarti and Gruyère even have a dedicated tool. “Our semi-hard cheese knives allow you to easily cut the tastiest soft and semi-hard cheeses,” says Hetebrij. “The special blade has two prongs, to which you can pierce a cut piece of cheese. This way you can give someone a piece of cheese without touching it – handy and hygienic.” Fun fact: If you’re unsure of a cheese’s status, most semi-hard cheeses will have a wax cover.
Hetebrij notes that Parmigiano-Reggiano is the most popular and best cheese to use on a grater, noting the gadget is suitable for use with semi-hard to very hard cheeses. Choose the proper grater based on personal use, as there are table graters, small graters with handles, double sided graters and more. “If you want to use your grater all the time, keep it in a convenient place, such as putting it back in the fridge together with the leftover cheese,” she says.
Double-Handled Cheese Knife
The double-handled cheese knife is best for cutting perfect cubes or strips of semi-hard cheeses for snacks and party trays. “Because you operate the knife with two hands, your fingers stay away from the cutting edge,” Hetebrij says. “This way you can easily and safely, with a rocking motion, cut straight pieces from the cheese.”
A spreading knife is one of the most common cheese tools, because who doesn’t love a good cheese ball during the holidays? Sleek knives like the Monaco+ Spreading Knife No.1 should be a staple in everyone’s household. Cheese aside, use it to spread pâté, pesto, butter, mustard, and whatever’s sitting beside crackers and bread. “You can put your favorite spreads on bread and crackers with ease, thanks to the bendable blade which accommodates your movements while spreading,” says Hetebrij. She recommends investing in a cheese tools set to ensure there’s a proper knife for each type of cheese being served.
The Dutch use a cheese slicer to slice paper thin pieces of young, unaged cheeses for breakfast spreads, snacks and the perfect slices for sandwiches. “When slicing cheese, you need a slicer that's easy to use and creates beautiful and even slices of cheese,” says Hetebrij. There are different styles of cheese slicers, designed for cheeses of different types depending on the hardness of the cheese.”
Girolle or Cheese Curler
Those who’ve experienced Emmi Tête de Moine AOP know all about it’s powerful aroma—a smell that lingers on the fingertips even after washing your hands. Not only does the girolle or cheese curler help with this matter but this specific cheese needs to be treated with care. “[The tool] is used to bring out the sharp aromatic character of the cheese,” says Allison Lacey, Emmi Brand Manager. “When sliced with a girolle, Tête de Moine is sliced into very thin cheese curls, or rosettes, that aerate and increase the surface area of the cheese, which helps bring out the flavor. This is a flavor you wouldn’t get by cutting Tête de Moine into chunks or slices.”
Fondue and Raclette Tools
“Both the Fondue and Raclette are a part of Swiss tradition and is lots of fun with friends,” Hetebrij notes. “With a Raclette the center of the cheese remains hard. You just scrape off the top layer of the cheese.” A heating lamp heats up the cheese by way of a rotating mechanism so cheese is perfectly melted. “The raclette is used by pouring the melted cheese over your favorite dishes with ease, including a delicious baguette, some potatoes, or pearl onions.”
Fondue pots melt cheese into perfect dipping sauces. It’s an instant crowd pleaser as guests can easily dip fruits, vegetables, and bread into cheese, chocolate and other sauces, making it a versatile tool. “Most people like Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss with their fondue,” she adds.
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