When people hang out in our Test Kitchen, I have been asked why I shred my cheese as opposed to buying it pre-shredded. Three reasons:
- I like to choose my shred size;
- I can't always find my preferred cheese in shredded form;
...and last, but not least...
The last one is the primary reason, but the least known. Most shredded cheeses that you buy contain an anti-caking agent so that each shred magically trickles from the package. That agent is cellulose.
Cellulose is an insoluble fiber and the cellulose that is used in most shredded cheeses comes from wood pulp. Is it bad for you? Well, I don't want to take one side or the other on that for this simple fact: I don't really know based upon the data that is available. The fact is that you can very easily get your cheese whole and just shred it to your liking and without any additives.
I use a lot of different shredders, but these are my favorites.
Handheld - The ZYLISS Rotary grater has been fabulous. It quickly switches to left- or right-hand crank and comes apart for easy cleaning.
Breville Sous Chef - I realize that I often wax affectionally about my Breville food processor, but it's only because it's a huge time-saver. If I am going to be shredding a lot of cheese for a recipe or just to put back in the fridge, this is my go-to. Especially since there are several shred sizes to choose from.
To learn more about anti-caking agents in shredded cheeses, take a look at this article from Eater.