There are many, many different kitchen utensils that you might not think about on a regular basis, from mixers to graters. However, when a recipe calls for a finely minced item and you don’t have a grater on hand, you might not know what to do.
Depending on the type of food it is, you might feel at a complete loss.
With that being said, there are a few different ways that you can cut up your foods small enough to work with your recipe. Everything depends on what you have in your kitchen and what you are working with in terms of food.
When all is said and done, using a knife is a tedious but effective method for just about all food items.
Working with a Mixer
While it might seem to be overkill at first, a mixer on a low setting can do a wonderful job of grinding down harder foods without taking nearly as much time as using a knife would.
Typically, you would be using this method with hard and semi-hard cheeses although hard vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, and similar vegetables can do well in a mixer.
What you will want to do is spray some non-stick coating onto the blades of the processor so that you can get as much food out of the mixer as you possibly can. If you don’t have cooking spray, you can always use regular oil to get the job done.
You can put a whole block of cheese into the mixer, although if you are worried about doing that, you can always cut the cheese into relatively smaller dice. Once that’s done, all you have to do is close the lid and pulse the mixer for two to three seconds until you get the size you want.
When you are working with vegetables, the process is a little bit different. You will want to insert the grater blade into the mixer if you have one to make the process go a bit more easily.
You should always wash and peel your vegetables but in this case, it is a little bit more important as nobody wants little skin bits in their vegetables. You will want to cut the vegetables into thinner strips as well as this will make it easier for your mixer to “grate” the vegetables.
Just as with the cheese, you will want to pulse the mixer for a few seconds at a time until you get the desired size of vegetable chunks that you need for your recipe. Lighter and smaller quantities of vegetables will make this easier, although it depends entirely on what the recipe calls for.
Working with a Knife and Cheese
More often than not when you need a grater, there’s a good chance that you are also going to be grating cheese.
Of course, this isn’t always the case but because it happens so often, there are a few things that you should note about grating cheese. For one, you can easily grate cheese with a knife. With certain types of cheese, you can simply rub it together.
That’s right, with parmesan or feta cheese, because it is so soft and crumbly, it is very easy to “grate” the cheese without an actual grater. All you will really have to do is rub the two pieces of cheese together, assuming that you have a firm hold on the cheese itself. This can take care of any need for grated cheese.
As for other types of cheese, you are going to need a knife and a bit of patience as “grating” anything with a knife is going to take time and a small amount of precision.
First things first; you are going to want to cut even half-inch strips of cheese. You should keep all of the strips of cheese together to make things easier for yourself.
Once you have done this, you should turn the cheese 90 degrees so that it is sitting the opposite way that it was before. From here, cut the cheese strips in half again.
Remember to keep the cheese strips together as you continue doing this. Turn the cheese another 90 degrees and then cut the strips perpendicular to the cuts that you just made in the last step. Repeat this step one more time to get the cheese strips small and close to how grated cheese would look.
Here, you take two pieces of cheese at a time and cut them as finely as you safely can. When you are cutting them, you should chop the cheese uniformly in one direction and then the other to help with the mincing process.
Doing this should present you with small, fine bits of cheese that will fit any recipe that calls for minced cheese of any degree, which is something that many aspiring cooks will be able to appreciate.
Using a Knife with Other Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
If you are writing about anything other than cheese, then you might feel at a loss. Cheese is soft and easy to grate with a knife.
Thankfully, cutting up fruits, vegetables, and other herbs is going to be just as easy, once you know what to do. If you can, you should try to find a paring knife to do the job with.
Firstly, you will want to slice the vegetables as thinly as you possibly can and you will want to make sure that you are cutting them up into strips. You should peel away the skin as well, depending on what the recipe calls for, although that is completely up to your discretion and the recipe that you are following.
Once you have done this, you will want to take the little strips of vegetable or fruit and you will want to stack them up as best as you can. Then you should cut down onto the strips, mincing them into tiny little pieces of vegetable, fruit, or herb.
If you are working with a fruit peel, then there are some other steps to consider. Of course, you are going to need to use a paring knife to peel away the outer rind of the object you are peeling. If there is any white pith on the peel, you should trim that away too as that is no good for a recipe.
With the peel placed onto a cutting board, you are going to want to follow similar steps to what you did when you were grating other types of vegetables. You are going to want to cut the peel into strips. Once those strips have been cut as small as they can be, you will want to stack them up and begin mincing them to the best of your ability.
By using these different grating methods, you should be able to find a way to grate the foods that you are cooking, allowing yourself to finish the recipe you are working with even if you do not have a traditional grater with you.
No matter if you are armed with a food processor, a mixer, or just a simple kitchen knife, you can rest assured knowing that you will find a way to grate the foods that you need grated.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.