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My household eats a lot of cheese. We like it all, including cheese blocks, shredded cheese, snacking cheese, string cheese, Parmesan cheese, and cheese curds from Aldi, and even the Unexpected Cheddar Cheese from Aldi’s cousin Trader Joe’s. We especially use a lot of shredded cheese in egg dishes, on homemade pizza, in casseroles, and atop chili or other soups.
Shredded cheese sold at the grocery store usually contains anti-caking agents such as potato starch or tapioca starch to prevent the cheese from sticking together, and it also usually contains natamycin as a natural mold inhibitor. These can affect the texture of certain recipes, and some people simply prefer to eat cheese without the extra ingredients when possible. For these reasons, some people like to shred their own cheese using whole blocks of cheese, which don’t contain those same additions to the ingredients list.
A while back, I bought a classic box grater from Aldi and experimented with shredding my own cheese. It worked well, but the box grater is bulky and felt like extra work to use and to clean, especially if I only needed a small amount of shredded cheese. And perhaps the biggest reason I am not keen on using my box grater is that it’s hard to grate the last bit of cheese without potentially grazing my knuckles on the sharp edges.
This year, I spotted some smaller graters at Aldi that looked like they might offer a solution. The options included a cone grater, a rotary grater, and a microplane grater. I chose to try the rotary grater because it looked easy to use, and it looked like I could drop smaller cheese blocks or chunks into it and grate them easily.
These graters are all sold under the Aldi Crofton brand, which is not a separate company but rather a private label Aldi uses for many of its kitchen and cookware products.
The Crofton Rotary Grater cost $7.99 at the time of publication. Most rotary graters on Amazon cost at least double that amount.
This is an Aldi Find, so it’s only in stores for a short time. Each store gets one shipment, and after that sells out, this is gone unless Aldi decides to bring it back at some point. Aldi does not offer online ordering for products that are not in stock at your local store.
Here’s more information on the grater, according to the box:
- Grates cheese, nuts, chocolate, and spices
- Features a stainless steel grating cylinder
- Includes a comfort grip handle and knob
- BPA free
- Made in China
This does not come with a manual or any directions for use, but it’s pretty intuitive. It has a few pieces that all work together, including the main handle and a small compartment that holds the cheese chunks or cheese block, along with rotary handle and a metal cylinder that grates the cheese.
To use, simply drop some cheese into the compartment, hold the device over a bowl or over your food, and turn the rotating handle. Theoretically, the grated cheese, nuts, chocolate, or herbs will fall out of the cylinder and onto your plate, bowl, or food. This doesn’t offer as many different styles of grating (thin shreds, thick shreds, slices, etc.) compared to the traditional box grater Aldi also sometimes sells, but I also can’t grate nuts or herbs with my box grater.
Using the Grater:
What I found when I tried using this grater is that it does a fantastic job of grating nuts (I tried coarsely chopped walnuts, which it turned to fine bits) and even chocolate (it’s hard to turn the crank to grate chocolate, but if you’re patient it will get the job done). I think this grater would also work well for hard cheeses such as Parmesan, which you might want to sprinkle on top of a salad or pasta dish.
When I tried using the grater for a block of cheddar cheese, though, the cheese stuck badly inside the grating cylinder. I held the grater with the opening facing down so that gravity could presumably do the work and the cheese should have simply fallen out into a bowl, but it didn’t work. I got the cheese out through a combination of banging the grater on a cutting board, banging it against the side of the bowl I was using to collect the cheese, and sticking a knife inside the grating cylinder to work the cheese loose.
I ended up with a nice bowl of shredded cheddar that I served as a topping for some chicken chili, but the process wasn’t as simple as I hoped it would be. I even tried spraying the grating cylinder with a little cooking spray before putting the cheese in to see if that would keep the cheddar from clumping, but it didn’t help much. The grating cylinder has a small diameter, and some other graters I’ve seen on the market are a little larger, so I wonder if having a larger cylinder — with more space for the grated cheese to fall out — might reduce clumping, but I’m not sure.
When you’re done grating, the whole rotary grater comes apart for cleaning. Hold the ridged plastic outer portion of the grating cylinder and then twist the rotating handle in a counter clockwise direction to take it all apart to wash. The grating cylinder is more challenging to get completely clean (I learned this when I tried to grate cheese after grating chocolate, and the chocolate showed up in my grated cheese), which is common for most graters. To get all food residue out, you’ll want to soak it in warm soapy water for a while and perhaps use a fine scrubbing brush to get into all the holes. The package does not say anything about this being dishwasher safe, but I put mine in my dishwasher’s top rack to get it fully clean. Once all the grater parts are clean and thoroughly dried, you can put it back together so it’s ready the next time you want freshly grated cheese, nuts, chocolate, or herbs.
Overall, this grater is good for foods that I can’t easily grate using my larger box grater, including nuts, herbs, or certain types of chocolate. It’s also good for hard cheeses such as Parmesan. For cheeses such as cheddar or mozzarella, my box grater might be the easier option in order to avoid large clumps of cheese sticking inside the grater.
The Crofton Rotary Grater is advertised as useful for grating a variety of foods, including cheese, nuts, chocolate, and herbs. We found it to be good to great for grating everything except cheeses such as cheddar or mozzarella, which tend to clump and stick inside the grating cylinder and require some effort to get out. For these kinds of cheeses, a box grater is probably a better choice than this rotary grater.