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The Cheese Course: By The Slice

Janet Fletcher - August 18th, 2014

If you serve a lot of cheese, you need a cheese wire—and not one of those flimsy kitchen-shop tools. You need the gonzo slicer that cheese merchants use. A professional-caliber cheese wire isn’t cheap, but it will enhance your cheese plates and platters because it makes such clean cuts. You’ll have less waste and work faster, too, once you get the hang of it.

The Handee Cheese Cutter, available from CheeseAndYogurtMaking.com or Hubert (item #28108), is the one to own. To use it smartly and safely, follow these tips from Kristi Bachman, former program director for the Cheese School of San Francisco:

Cut cheese when it’s cold. It slices more neatly and won’t stick to the wire.

Position a wedge with the rind toward you, flush with the slicer’s wall to stabilize the wedge.

A wedge with a sharp point or “nose” can be difficult to cut in half because there’s no place for the wire to rest. With a knife, cut across the nose just enough to remove the pointed tip. Then you have a flat plane on which to place the wire.

After positioning the wire where you want it, grasp the handle and pull decisively. Novices are often hesitant and want to go slow, but the cut will be cleaner and the rind less likely to slip if you commit and pull without hesitation.

Make sure you have enough room behind you so that you can pull straight back, with your elbow aimed at the wall behind you. Avoid pulling down, especially when cutting a soft cheese. A downward motion can drag the rind through the cheese or smash a soft cheese.

Hard cheeses require some strength, but don’t rely on your arm or shoulder muscles. Use your core.

When preparing cheese plates, cut mild cheeses first, strong cheeses last to avoid aroma contagion.

When cutting into a wheel with a waxed rind, score the wax with a knife first.

Some cheeses should not be cut with a wire. Use a soft-cheese knife to cut mozzarella and burrata. Use a blunt Parmesan knife to chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Gouda.

Use vinegar spray (1 part distilled vinegar to 2 parts water) to clean the device when you transition from one cheese to another. Sterilize the device in the dishwasher between uses.

Replace the disposable wire whenever it becomes bent or loses tension and stops cutting cleanly.

Watch Janet Fletcher demonstrate using cheese wire in her video.