5 Tips for Working with Cheese Knives, According to a Cheese Expert
A well-prepared cheese board is always exciting. Filled with a gorgeous spread of accoutrements like soft cheeses, hard cheeses, crackers and crostini, and jams and preserves, they can easily be a standalone meal, or served to guests at dinner parties for noshing. However, cutting the cheese itself isn't quite so simple. There's a world of cheese knives out there, ranging from spades to etched knives, and if you're unfamiliar with them, it's hard to know which one to grab off the platter. Besides, they'll all get you a slice of cheese in the end … right?
To demystify the process, we tapped Eric Brazel, the former in-house Fromager at Fig Restaurant in Santa Monica and expert on all things cheese. He not only gave us a breakdown on which knives work best with each cheese, but also told us how to care for them, so they'll last for many, many cheese boards to come. Check out his tips below:
First: You Need These Knives and Spreaders
An Etched or Hollow Knife
"This knife is important because the air pockets help eliminate sticking and make a clean cut without damaging the shape of the cheese," Brazel explains. "This knife can also be used on semi-hard cheeses. The fork end is good for moving the cheese around the board."
Wüsthof Classic Etched Cheese Knife, Five Inches, $150 at surlatable.com
A Spade or Hard Cheese Knife
"You need a sharp, wide blade to easily cut into a hard cheese," he says. "This knife is great to use when cutting Asiago, Manchego, and Parmesan cheeses."
A Cheese Wire
"A cheese wire is perfect for blue cheeses because it will not drag through or break off the fragile blue cheese," Brazel says. "It will make nice little slices."
Boska Soft Cheese Cutter, $50–$55 (depending on size) at food52.com
Additionally, when entertaining, Brazel recommends using Laguiole spreaders with your cheese board.
Laguiole Spreaders, $30 for a set of 8 (was $65) at macys.com
Try These Brands
"I am a fan of Wüsthof and [Henckels] cheese knives and they are readily available for at home cooks," he says. "I also like the Boska Holland Cheese Knife Set Vienna."
Boska Cheese Knives Set Mini Vienna, €20 (about $20) at en.boska.com
Always Keep Your Knives Sharp and Clean
"The knives should be honed regularly at home and taken to a professional sharpener once a year," Brazel says. "It is important that the knives remain very sharp to avoid tugging and pulling apart the cheese. You should always hand-wash your knives."
He also says to wipe the cheese knife with a damp cloth in between cuts if necessary, in order to make sure the knife stays clean.
Respect the Shape of the Cheese
"Don't try to change the shape of the cheese by cutting it into cubes or quartering round discs," he says.
And Finally, Keep Your Slices Small
"Many people slice cheese into large, thick pieces," Brazel explains. "It is better to cut thin pieces and cut more if you need to. This is how cheese should be served."
Now that you know which knives you need and how to use them, all that's left is putting together your cheese board. Check out our tips for arranging a cheese platter, from selecting the cheeses to filling in gaps.