Why Do We Use Wire For Cutting Cheese?
Since I began regularly eating cheese as an everyday snack a few years ago, I have searched high and low for good tools to cut cheese. In fact, we created Lavish Cheese because it was so difficult to find good quality, well designed cheese tools in Canada and the US. Soft or delicate cheese often crumbles or gets squashed in the cutting process, but there is an easy solution! Humble cheese cutting wire is the answer.
A lot of people wonder how to cut cheese, and why normal knives don’t actually work like you would expect. It all has to do with the moisture content of the cheese coupled with the temperature, and type of rind. Moisture content is just another way of saying softness or hardness of the cheese. A soft cheese such as mozzarella has a higher moisture content than a harder cheese such as Asiago.
Soft cheeses at room temperature are the toughest to cut nicely, and unfortunately, a lot of the best cheeses for boards and charcuteries fall into this category. It includes the most popular ones such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Cambozola, almost any blues, and chevre (fresh goat cheese). On the other hand, hard cheeses are susceptible to crumbling due to the friction of a knife blade when it is run through the cheese. Cheese cutting wire solves both of these problems!
Wire has a very small surface area for the cheese to stick to, so it cuts through delicate cheeses with high moisture content very easily. And when used for hard cheeses, it is very thin so doesn’t create enough friction to pull the cheese apart. Cheese cutting wire comes in a variety of forms, the most common of which are outlined below.
These slicers have a wire set beside an adjustable roller which can move closer to the wire, or further from the wire to change the slice width. This type of slicer is great if you use sliced cheese for a variety of things, or the people in your household like different thicknesses of slices.
The roller is really easy to move in and out, so it is never daunting to go from thin slices for garnishing pasta to thicker slices for sandwiches. Additionally, these type of slicers work really well for any cheese up to medium, and sometimes even medium-hard cheeses.
This tool is a simple metal frame with a wire running between two points. It is less durable than the adjustable slicer, and is really only recommended for soft cheese such as chevre or blues.
One of the main benefits is that there is a lot of space between the wire and the frame, which makes it really easy to cut slices from wedges or rounds.
The wire is attached to a board, so you can just lay the cheese on it with however much you want sliced on one side of the wire, and the remainder of the block on the other side. It is free-standing, and as long as the wire is well attached to the board and the handle, it will be a durable and long-lasting solution for cutting cheese.
Generally the weakest point on this type of slicer is the wire attachment point, and although they can handle soft, semi-soft and medium hard cheeses, after a long time, or with rough use, the wire may come off the attachment.
Cut out blades (or very narrow blades) are popular, and their best feature is the versatility they offer. The cut out does mostly stop cheese from sticking to the blade as the flat surface area is broken up, and because it is a sharp blade, it can still be used on hard cheeses too.
As with any compromise, the problem is that it doesn’t do any one thing really well. It will still make a bit of a mess of soft cheese, especially if it is at room temperature, and it does take quite a lot of force to get the thin, flimsy, blade through hard cheese.
Double Handle Cheese Wire
Although these are more commonly a tool that only professionals use, there is no reason why you should not have one in your kitchen. The wire is attached to two short sections of dowel which are comfortable to hold and easy to grip well. When the handles are pulled apart, the wire becomes taught, and will cut through a block of cheese.