I’m always ready for an impromptu cheese & wine 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. Or really, whenever I please nowadays as my cabinets and drawers are filled with an overload of cheese & wine wares and tools.
Do you really need cheese knives?
The short answer is no, but they’re nice to have. You can certainly eat, serve and enjoy cheese without any special tools. But if you like to entertain and serve cheese to guests, a few cheese knives are quite handy and add a special touch to your cheese board.
Some designers have spent a lot of time determining that some knives are better than others, when working with different densities and textures. Yes, cheese cutlery is a real thing. 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.
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 dinner party. If so, dust them off immediately.
Regular table knives are not good cutters for harder cheeses, so consider supplying some real hard cheese and soft cheese knives.
Basically there are knives to deal with soft cheese, semi-soft, semi-hard cheese, and hard cheese. A general rule of thumb is that the more blades you see on a knife the harder the cheese it was designed to slice.
Soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert have a soft interior and could easily stick to the knife. To make a cleaner cut and keep the shape of the delicate interior you can use a knife with a very thin straight blade or a cheese knife with holes. If you don’t have a cheese knife a sharp cook’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped will do also do the job.
The cheese planes or slicers as we all know are of course used for shaving even slices of semi hard or hard cheeses.
Cheese cleavers or cheese spades are excellent for cutting hard or firm cheese – both wedges and chunks of cheese.
The cheese fork can be used to hold a block of cheese in place while cutting – it’s also ideal for breaking hard or aged cheeses into smaller pieces.
Here’s a quick guide on what they are and how to use the kinds of knives that show up in the most of common cheese knives sets, which you might encounter at a home goods store or in service at a dinner party.
Narrow Blade Pronged Cheese knife/Fork-Tipped Spear
A slicer with two prongs at the tip for picking up cut cheese pieces for serving and breaking up cheese blocks. Usually these are for semi-hard cheeses, but can be versatile if they’re sharp and well made, making it a great choice for a cheese board.
The fork-tipped spear is both a fork and a spear. This is one of the most versatile knives you can purchase because it can cut firm cheeses, and then you can pick up cheese to serve yourself or someone else without touching it – handy and hygienic.
This multipurpose knife is also great for cutting soft cheese like Brie but can also be used for harder cheeses. The prongs at the end of the knife are used for serving and breaking up cheese blocks. The holes in the knife prevent cheese from sticking to the blade.
Perforated Soft Cheese Knife
Although this knife looks like Swiss cheese, you’ll only want to use it on soft, sticky cheeses. The holes in the knife keep the gooey cheese from sticking to the blade, tearing and ultimately making a huge mess of your cheese service while slicing. Use it for soft and semi-soft cheeses.
Narrow Plane/Thin Knife
Designed to cut semi-firm cheeses like gouda, Jack or Cheddar, as well as soft cheeses like Brie.
This guy is pretty versatile, but he’s best suited for semi-hard cheeses. Because this knife has a sharp end on both the short end and long end, you can use it as a combination flat cheese knife, and press into hard cheeses and finish cutting wedges with the sharp long end.
Parmesan/Heart knife/Small Spade/Hard Cheese Knife
Hard cheeses like Parmesan, aged Gouda and Romano can be challenging to maneuver on a board.
You break it!
A short blade with a big belly for splitting or “breaking” up hard cheeses, like parmesan. The pointed blade of this dynamic all-purpose knife can break apart hard cheeses like parmesan into easy-to-eat bites; and, then spear the cheese with the tip to pick it off the cutting board and into your mouth.
Narrow Blade cheese Knife
Used for hard cheese and cuts through more difficult cheese. Use the sharp point of the knife to pierce the cheese and watch as it effortlessly breaks into bite-sized crumbles.
A big damn block of blade for cutting hard cheese. Of course, you can also use it to cut a variety of other cheeses from semi-soft to hard varieties.
Chisel/Flat Cheese knife
A flat wide blade used for hard cheeses when you want your portions to be gigantic. You’ll want to use this knife to cut or divide soft cheese. Use this wide cheese knife to cut crumbly soft cheeses like blue cheeses or shave, chio and cube firm hard cheese, like Parmesan, Romano, Emmentaler, Asiago, and aged cheeses, into generous chunks – great for a cheese board. Because the bottom edge of the knife has the sharp edge, the cutting motion will always be pressing down.
Spreader/Soft Cheese Knife/Wide Blade Knife
As its name suggests, this rounded knife should be used for soft or crumbled, spreadable cheeses or cheese spreads onto crackers, bread and other accompanying foods. Basically a butter knife only for cheese instead of butter. Usually these will be short and fat for spreading very soft cheeses.
Cheese aside, use it to spread pâté, pesto, butter, mustard, and whatever’s sitting beside crackers and bread. You can put your favourite spreads on bread and crackers with ease, thanks to the bendable blade which accommodates your movements while spreading.
Cheese Plane/Cheese Slicer
This tool can be used for shaving thin slices of cheese for tasting. It’s best for semi-soft (fontina, havarti) and semi-hard (gouda, alpine-style) varieties. Looks like a flat shovel with an open slot near the base.
This guy is great when you want a thin piece of cheese, instead of cubes or wedges. Sometimes less is more, and cutting hard cheeses like parmesan into thin slices makes for better presentation. It’s also great when you want to cut cheese for a sandwich while having consistent slices.
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. There are different styles of cheese slicers, designed for cheeses of different types depending on the hardness of the cheese.
Cheese Fork/Serving Knife
Usually two big prongs on a handle. It’s for serving guests or holding large blocks of cheese while you cut, or breaking up harder, firmer cheeses as you slice them.
Since a cheese fork is not technically a knife, it seems like an odd addition to this list; however, if you have a cheese knife set, or are looking to invest in one, you’ll probably want to get one of these. The point of a cheese fork is to hold one piece of hard cheese while you go at it with another cheese knife.
You can use it as a knife if you use it to break apart soft crumbly cheeses, like feta. Think of it like an ice pick to break apart a chunk of ice.
A cheese grater is a perfect tool when grating harder cheese such as Parmesan and Romano. The gadget is suitable for use with semi-hard to very hard cheeses.
Most cooks have some version of a cheese grater in their kitchens, but a smaller handled version is nice for serving extra cheese at the table (perfect for pasta dishes).
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.
Wire Used for soft cheese so the cheese doesn’t crush under the force needed to cut pieces. A wire can also be used for cutting uniform pieces of hard cheese like cheddar.
The Griolle or cheese curler is a traditional tool and is used when serving Swiss cheese, more specifically Tête de Moine cheese. The cheese is placed over the spike in the middle of the Griolle and the handle is cranked around creating extremely thin crinkles of the cheese.
Tête de Moine cheese needs to be treated with care. The tool is used to bring out the sharp aromatic character of the cheese. 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 flavour. This is a flavour you wouldn’t get by cutting Tête de Moine into chunks or slices.
The Griolle can also be used to shave chocolate to create petal-like shavings.
The offset thin blade makes it easier to cut through soft cheese and not push the paste out of the crust. These knives may have a very sharp blade, or fine teeth.
This knife is long and flimsy like a palette knife. Similar to a spreading knife, but a longer thicker blade to make spreading creamy blue cheese easier.
A traditional way to consume Stilton is to have a large block of it, and use the spoon instead of a knife. Start with the centre and scoop yourself out some wonderful taste of the paste.
Two Handed Knife
A way to have more control over cutting larger sized pieces of firmer cheese.
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. This way you can easily and safely, with a rocking motion, cut straight pieces from the cheese.
Note: I get really excited about cheese and wine, so it’s difficult for me to be brief when there is so much wonderful information to share!
- A Complete Guide to Plan an Unforgettable Wine & Cheese Party
- The cheese
- ***Soft Cheese – Fresh – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Soft Cheese – Fresh – Goat’s milk cheese
- ***Stretched Curd and Brined
- ***Soft and Brined
- ***Soft-ripened and Bloomy-rind – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Soft Ripened and Bloomy-rind – Cow’s milk cheese – Double/Triple-crème cheeses
- ***Soft-ripened and Bloomy-rind – Goat’s milk cheese
- ***Semi-soft and Brined
- ***Semi-soft – Mild Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Semi-soft – Mild Sheep’s milk
- ***Semi-soft – Swiss or Swiss style
- ***Washed Rind (soft or semi-soft/Semi-hard Cheese/Medium-aged Cheeses)
- ***Aged – Cow’s milk cheese
- ***Hard – sheep’s milk cheese
- ***Hard – Grana
- ***Blue cheeses
- What to serve with the cheese and wine?
- Cheese and Wine Pairing
- ***Classic Cheese and Wine Pairing Chart
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Sparkling Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – White Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – White Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Rosé Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Red Wine
- ***Classic Wine and Cheese Pairing – Dessert Wine
- Non-alcoholic alternatives
- How much to buy?
- How to set the table?
- Chronogram & Preparation
***In Development, please keep checking.
Reference: Content and images based on information from: https://www.wikipedia.org/ https://cheese.com https://www.cookipedia.co.uk
https://culturecheesemag.com https://www.gourmetsleuth.com https://winefolly.com/ https://www.tasteatlas.com https://www.wine.com/ https://winemonger.com https://www.terroir-france.com/
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