I first completed the Whole Living Challenge – a 30 day challenge of cutting out processed foods and beverages, sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol in attempts to detoxify your body – back in 2011. After 30 days of successfully cleansing my body – and my palate – I couldn’t help but notice how differently (and gross!) processed foods tasted to me. Ketchup immediately comes to mind. It tasted like straight sugar! Nearly every processed food I used to eat on a daily basis prior to my first time doing the Challenge either tasted disgusting to me or made me sick once I tried it again afterwards.
The one thing I didn’t notice that first year, however, was shredded cheese.
It wasn’t until earlier this year, after my third time doing the Whole Living Challenge, that I realized how gross pre-shredded, bagged cheese tasted.
I had made myself a plate of nachos using a bag of shredded colby jack cheese and couldn’t help but make that oh-so-unattractive tongue smacking across the roof of my mouth face in hopes of temporarily killing taste buds. G noticed (because it was oh-so-sexy) and asked what was wrong.
“This is going to sound really weird,” I said slowly between my tongue/mouth roof smacking, “but this cheese tastes like…(tongue smack, tongue smack)…sawdust?!”
“That’s because it is,” he replied matter-of-factly.
A quick search of the ingredients on the package later and I discovered G was right.
Packaged shredded cheese contains cellulose – an “ingredient” that keeps shredded cheese from sticking together. Cellulose is made from wood pulp. Wood pulp keeps packaged pre-shredded cheese from sticking together.
Seriously. That’s gross.
My tongue smacks soon turned into dry heaves as I imagined splinters coating my throat once I swallowed my nacho.
That was several months ago, and since that time I’ve been buying blocks of cheese, shredding it myself using the grater attachment on my food processor, and bagging it up and freezing it for my family’s future (splinter-free throat) enjoyment.
Did you know you can freeze cheese?
Nothing is worse to a Wisconsin girl than realizing you’re out of cheese in the house. It’s a travesty that will bring shame to your family faster than saying you’re not a Green Bay Packer fan. I come from a long line of genuine Wisconsin (Packer-loving) cheese freezers and I’m here to tell you it’s not only possible, it’s a necessity to prevent your deportation to Minnesota.
Simply start with a block of cheese, shred it (it takes literally only seconds using a food processor), and then spread your shredded cheese out onto a rimmed cookie sheet:
Place the rimmed cookie sheet in your freezer for approximately one hour:
After an hour or so, stir/break up the cheese on the cookie sheet using your hands, and put back in the freezer for another hour. Once your shredded cheese is frozen, bag it up in freezer bags or reusable freezer containers and store in your freezer until you’re ready to use it.
I’ve been doing this all year and I’ve found there’s no need to add any additional ingredient to your cheese to keep it from sticking together as long as you wait until it’s already frozen on a cookie sheet before bagging it up. Once you’re ready to use it it only takes a couple of minutes to thaw at room temperature, or you can use it frozen if you’re adding it to a dish that will be cooked.
With such a simple, cheap (block cheese is cheaper per ounce than bagged cheese!), quick and easy way to eliminate wood pulp from your diet – what are you waiting for? Start shredding your own cheese today!
Interested in more healthy freezer meal ideas? Join me at my house for my Wildtree party on Tuesday, August 13th! You have until this Monday, July 1st to RSVP and now you don’t even need to be within driving distance of me to attend – you can join us virtually! Email me at the address below if you’re interested:
I’d love to see you there!
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This makes me want to go throw out all of my processed pre-shredded cheese. Ick!
Oh, I know! I felt the same way. So gross!
I had that exact same reaction when I first found out, Briel!
Long time reader, first time commenter. I recently stopped buying pre-packaged cheese because it was more expensive than the blocks – good to know that this also prevents me from eating wood!
Love your blog!
Thank you, Stacy! I’m happy to hear you’re feeding your body better AND saving money while doing it – win, win!
Ugh, pre-packaged shredded cheese is the worst. I usually just shred it as I need it, but I’m definitely going to try freezing it. Thanks for the tip!
My pleasure, Kristin!
Thanks for the freezing tip, I had no idea you could freeze shredded cheese.
Since you eat so clean in your everyday life do you think you could share some recipes that are your go to ones that are clean and healthy. I know you listed the recipes you used during your Whole Living Challenge, but I need ideas on what’s easy, healthy and clean for the busy working mom.
Thanks for your comment, Casie! I try to eat healthily and all-natural, but I definitely do not consider myself the poster girl for eating clean. I still have soooooooo much to learn – and I still cave to cravings even when I know it’s bad for me! I consider many of the Whole Living Challenge recipes staples for me – especially when it comes to my weekday/workday lunches. I make a big batch of something and eat it throughout the week. I also like to roast a whole organic chicken, shred it up, and freeze it in smaller sized bags for quick and easy dinner options like quesadillas or a chicken flatbread. I recently blogged about Wildtree and lately I’ve been discovering some great all-natural quick and easy meals from that! Check out that post if you haven’t already done so. Bulk prep and freezing is KEY for me to stay successful at eating well. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, and I will continue to post recipes on my blog that I think are winners!
Do you have any idea how much I like cheese? Do you have any idea how much pre-shredded cheese we buy? I am so glad I own a food processor from the 80s that will still get this done. Sharing your post on my Facebook page.
I can totally relate, Cindy! I just bought two big blocks of cheese from Costco today and I can’t wait to let my food processor get at them. Yum!
I just started following your blog and my husband and I will have to try the whole living challenge you have done. We are thinking of going vegetarian but not sure if it’s right for us, although we really want to start eating healthier. Was it hard doing the challenge or was it harder doing it for the 3rd time? Thank you for sharing.
It is hard, I’m not going to lie. It was hard to do my first time, but on the flip side, it almost seemed easier to stick with it because the positive changes I was noticing from making such a dramatic changes in my diet felt so good! I don’t consider myself a vegetarian, but I also don’t eat meat “in public” (<-how I jokingly label it). Basically, I've come to the point where I will only eat beef if I know exactly where it came from (which farm and which butcher), and I only eat chicken that's organic and that I've prepared. 99% of the time this means I won't eat meat at a restaurant or someone else's home. My psuedo-vegetarian choices are for health reasons (and because meat grosses me out). Just thought I'd mention these guidelines I've implemented for myself in case it seemed like a good fit for you and your husband as you consider vegetarianism.
Uhhhhh….I just bought three bags….I think I am going to be sick.
I’ve had a couple of bags in my freezer, sitting unused, from when I first found this out. I’ll have to google alternative uses for bagged shredded cheese. Mulch, maybe? Confetti? Remember Hildy from Trading Spaces? I bet she’d glue it all to a wall.
Great tip! I never thought about shredding my own cheese. It’s probably cheaper.
But why is cellulose so scary? Unnecessary? Maybe. But gross? Cellulose can come from celery or wood or lots of other plants. It is what it is. From what I’ve read, there’s no need to panic.
Yep, it is cheaper – another plus! It sounds like you’re already an informed consumer, which is fantastic! For those of us who didn’t know we were swallowing wood pulp with our shredded cheese, finding out is a little disturbing.
You have sold me. I always buy bagged cheese but now that I now you can use your food processor, I think I can make the change.
Do you know how many cups of shredded cheese a 2lb block will yield? I always find myself just guessing by the handful
I just shredded up a 2lb block of cheese (took me about 90 seconds) and it yielded 10 cups of shredded cheese – talk about a money saver!
I enjoyed your post. I already use block cheese and shred it when I need it but I never thought of freezing it. Thank you for the info it wil help me save more time! Plus I totally relate to the comment of being deported to MN given that I am from MN. I know how serious that would be for you, it made me laugh. Thanks!
Did the grater attachment come with your food processor or did you have to buy it separately?
Does freezing it keep it from sticking/clumping together after shredding or is the freezing just to store it longer
Great question, Amy. Freezing it is just to store it longer, and is definitely not necessary if you plan to eat it all up in a short period of time.
THANK YOU! My daughter is allergic to cornstarch, so we have to steer clear of many pre-shredded cheeses — believe it or not, cornstarch is often cheaper than cellulose, and used in many “bargain” pre-shreds. But I’ve missed the convenience of shredded at the ready … Ive wanted to shred in bulk to have cheese at the ready — the convenience & the cost-savings are powerful motivators — but I couldn’t use cornstarch. This is the first “recipe” I’ve seen that doesn’t call for cornstarch as a anti-clumping agent.
I have cheese in the freezer now!
I’m so happy to hear you found this post helpful, Cynthia! I hope your cheese freezing went well. I’m about to shred and freeze up another batch myself this week – we go through it so quickly! Hopefully this is exactly what you needed for your daughter!
I’m a Cheesehead too! Just bought my first food processor and I’m excited to grate my own cheese and freeze it! Thanks for the helpful tips!!!