Slicing and serving cheese is a great way to impress friends and family—particularly around the holiday seasons. There’s something special about serving a perfectly sliced piece of cheese with a nice wine and maybe some fine roasted meats. It’s almost an art form. Since it’s an art form, however, that means that the person doing the slicing and serving is going to not only have the best cheese slicer available to them, but they will also want to know what they’re doing.
To help our readers slice their cheese perfectly so that they can serve it up with style to their guests, we’ve decided to write this guide on the subject. In this guide, we’re going to give all of our readers the information they need to slice cheese in its various forms. It doesn’t matter if it’s a log, a triangular wedge, a crumbly block, smaller round wheels, alpine wedge cuts, spruce-wrapped round wheels, or Tete de Moine Rosettes because we’re going to explain how to slice it.
Step One: Gather Some Tools
One of the first things that the consumer is going to want to do before they begin slicing cheese on a regular basis is to choose some of the best tools for the job. There are a variety of different tools for slicing and cutting cheese and these range from cheese slicers to cheddar cleavers. Let’s take a look at some of these different cheese cutting tools, shall we?
The Cheese Slicer (AKA Harp)
Also known as a cheese harp, the cheese slice is one of the most versatile cheese cutting tools a person can have in their arsenal. Even though these slicers can be theoretically used for just about any block or wedge cheese, it works the best with softer cheeses such as brie or blue cheese. It’s also good for cutting processed cheese food—but we dare not say that in front of cheese purists.
Pronged Cheese Knife
To many people, this knife looks more like a 2-pronged fork than a knife, but trust us when we say that it’s actually a great little cheese knife. It can be used for soft cheeses or harder cheeses. Its pronged tip makes picking up and serving the cheese a lot easier.
Chisel Cheese Knife
Another important cheese knife is the chisel knife. This knife looks like a paddle and as its name suggests, it’s used as a chisel. This knife is especially useful for dealing with crumbling cheeses that are difficult to cut with other types of cheese knives.
Heart Cheese Knife
This knife is so named because it vaguely resembles the shape of a human heart—or at least the bottom portion of a heart. Of course, that name isn’t the only name given to this knife. It’s also known as a spade knife, bell knife, teardrop knife, pear knife, and almond knife. What it really should be called, however, is a Parmigiano knife because that’s what it’s used for. It’s a knife used to tackle hard, dry cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or Trentingrana cheeses.
Cheese Cleaver Knife
As the name of this knife suggests, this is a mini cleaver. However, this small cleaver isn’t used to split bone and muscle like a meat cleaver but is instead used to cut hard cheeses. Cheeses that include Cheddar, Asiago, Gruyere, and Fontina.
Much like a wood plane, a cheese plane is used for removing wafer-thin slices of material—in this case, cheese. It looks sort of like a spatula that has a sharp-edged slit in it. This tool is ideal for a number of cheeses including Fontina, Munster, Gouda, and Havarti.
Other Cheese Slicing/Cutting Tools To Consider
Of course, the above list of cheese knives and slicers is only the tip of the iceberg. There are also a variety of other cheese cutting tools for the consumer to consider. Below are some of the other cheese slicing tools that people might want to add to their collection as they begin exploring the fun world of serving cheese.
- Cheese Bow Knife
- Hard Cheese Knife
- Narrow Plane Cheese Knife
- Gorgonzola Knife
- Slim Blade Cheese Knife
- Cheese Spreader
- Soft Cheese Knife
Step Two: Learn Some Cheese Slicing Techniques
Once the consumer has collected at least some of the cheese knives they will need, it’s time for them to learn the technique of slicing cheese. How a person slices cheese will vary according to not only what type of cheese is being cut, but also according to that cheese’s shape. Below are some common types of cheeses along with some information on how to properly cut them.
Spruce-Wrapped Round Wheels
Spruce wrapped round wheels such as Greensward need to have their top layer of rind removed before they can be served. This rind can be partially or completely removed as determined by the person preparing the cheese for serving.
To remove the round rind, score the top of the rind as you’re following the edge of the cheese. You can score around the entire diameter of the circle or simply do a semi-circle—it’s up to you. When that’s done, the whole top of the semi-circle top can be removed and the creamy cheese served.
Soft wedges include cheeses such as blue cheeses. For these types of cheeses, you’re going to want to use a cheese harp—also known as the cheese slicer. The rind should be removed along the side of the wedge usinit. Following the same trajectory, you can then use the cheese harp to cut slices across the width of the wedge.
Rectangular Or Block Cheese
Firm cheese is often formed in blocks or rectangular shaped pieces. Using the proper tool, you can cut these cheeses using thin-sliced in perpendicular cuts. It doesn’t matter if you’re cutting cheese with a rind or cheese without a rind, this method works well.
If the wedge is especially thick, you’re probably going to want to cut it into smaller portions. Then pieces can be cut perpendicular to the rectangular wedge. And that’s all there is to cutting cheeses that are in block or rectangular forms.
Tete de Moine Rosettes
With Tete de Moine, you’re going to want to shave off small ribbons. In order to do that, you’re going to have to use a Girolle machine. This tool looks like something that would be used to work wood, but is actually used for shaving cheese. It consists of a wooden tool that has a crank knife attached to it. As the cheese is rotated, the Girolle machine shaves off pieces of it.
To being with this cheese, you’re first going to have to cut off the top rind of the cheese. Then the wheel is going to be pierced through the center of the cheese—right in the middle. The cutting knife is then attached to the Girolle machine and is rotated in either direction to create cheese curls.