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Simple Kitchen Utensils That Stump Me

Behold, that illustrious kitchen staple commonly known as the cheese grater:

cheese grater

Now, I realize I’m no Julia Child (or whoever is hip to reference these days) in the kitchen, but this tool has FOUR sides to it. It always has and it always will. In my entire life, I have only ever used one side and completely ignored (or neglected if the thing has feelings) the other three sides.


Because I have no idea what they do.


Because I took Band instead of Home Ec in school.

Now, one of these sides I can at least guess what it does. It probably slices or something.

cheese grater

Like maybe cucumbers or fingers or whatever, but I just use that other kitchen staple….the knife.

However, there are still two other sides to this thing. And that is where the mystery deepens for me:

cheese grater

What the bleepin’ bleep do these two sides do? I once thought they might super tiny grate the cheese like how they used to have in Taco Bell tacos. One day I fruitlessly scraped and pretty much just mangled a hunk of cheese and created a virtual pile of nothing but a cheese grater that was then impossible to clean.

Am I the only dummy here?


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  1. Oubliet says:

    I’ve used the slicing side for coarse-slicing large amounts carrots to be added to soups.  You really have to be careful and never bear down too hard  directly over the blades, lest the carrot break and your fi gets and hand get cut horribly.

    I usually fast-slice 3/4of a carrot, then stop and cut the rest with a knife.   

    The small rough side is good for nutmeg and hard cheeses like others have already shared.

    I don’t use the zesting side.  I prefer to use a vegetable peeler to zest my oranges and lemons. 

    1.  I recently tried the slicing side to slice cucumbers and wow! – that sure sped things up. Plus you get way more consistent slices than hand slicing, although they are very thin. But yeah, you do have to watch your fingers. 🙂

  2. I thought I was alone in my ignorance!  1-sided cheese grater users unite!

    Having said that, I will admit that I found a not too conventional use for the bumpy sides.  Prepare to be amazed and possibly grossed out…

    (I knew that would get your attention.)

    Before I was finally confined to a wheelchair due to an ongoing back condition, I obviously had a great amount of trouble reaching my feet to properly wash/exfoliate them when taking a shower.  Over time, the bottoms of my feet, while clean, slowly began to build up callouses from hell or as I like to call them “The Devil’s Callouses”.  (You decide.)  These puppies were at least an eighth of an inch thick and even more in places.  While skin of that magnitude of thickness most certainly aided me during my occasional sojourns in Hades, it didn’t really work for me during my normal routine here on earth.  Enter the 4-sided box grater…

    Crazy you might call me but that puppy worked like a charm!  A few swipes with I guess you’d call it the “coarse” side followed by a bit of buffing with the “fine” side while showering and I was back to walking unnoticed among the angels let alone mere mortals.

    No one wants flecks of Sheol-hardened pedi-dermis perchance tainting that otherwise perfect mound of cheese destined to be part of that one dish that you don’t want your doctor knowing that you eat.  So while use of a box grater in the manner I just described may cause it to be banned from your respective galley forever by your better half, I consider the results well worth the cost.  🙂

    1.  Well, as usual Bryan, your story has amazed, amused and horrified me. Thanks for that. But I think I’ll try nutmeg first. With the grater, not my feet. 😉

  3. Nancy Lauzon says:

    Funny post! I also only use one side of my cheese grater. I have tried using the ‘zesting’ side, but I ended up with a whole lotta lemon pulp on the inside, which I couldn’t get off. One of these days I’ll have to try the other 2 sides. I’ll add it to the list of ‘must do’ things before I die. 

    1.  That’s pretty ambitious, having “use other 2 sides of cheese grater” on your bucket list.  🙂

  4. I would never have known what the other sides were for either. I’ve only used the one side, too. I actually found a flat one at a kitchen store that has just that side we use, so much easier to store.
    I would never use that for zesting, I have a small tool I got from Pampered Chef that I use for zesting – again easier to store. =)
    But your readers are SO smart…. thanks for the knowledge.

    1.  I have just a one-sider too, but it’s easier on the hands to use the 4-sided one when I have lots of cheese to grate.

      I don’t think I have ever zested in my life.

  5. Well, you know that Nicky would have the correct answer. I have actually used the fine grater for a hard cheese many moons ago, but I think they are lethal weapons and try to avoid them now.

    1.  They ARE lethal weapons indeed, Babs! And yes, I’m glad I can count on Nicky for anything cheese.

  6. Hi there, I came over from Expat Mum, nice to meet you. We gave all those gadgets away including the coffee pot. Now all I need to know is how to boil an egg.

    1.  What??? You know how to boil an egg? I keep trying, knowing some day I’ll get it right, but it’s either underdone or it’s got that grey green outline. How hard can it be???

  7. Expat Mum says:

    I too, really regret not taking Home Ec. (or Domestic Science as we called it in England). It was thought to be less academic than some of the other subjects on offer – like Latin, which of course I use on a daily basis in Chicago. Now, although I can make out the carvings on old statues in Europe, I can’t for the life of me figure out why everything I bake turns out like a hockey puck!

    1.  LOL! You mean you don’t walk around the house dominus opus-ing to the cats?

  8. Danny Marguerite says:

    Hi there
    Yet another funny post again ! I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I must say that it rocks ! You’re amazing !
    Actually, I live in France where we have some cheese (including goat cheese) that don’t need any grater or whatever. And they are stinkingly delicious 🙂
    As for kitchen staples, I agree : there are too many of them that seem useless to me but the boss (my dear wife) wouldn’t get rid of them .
    Anyway, enjoy your week-end

    1.  Thanks for the compliments, Danny.

      And stinkingly delicious cheese also rocks. Hope you had a nice weekend too!

      1. Danny says:

        I just remembered that you can use the other sides to ‘fine grate’ nutmeg too. You’ve heard about nutmeg, huh ? :))

  9. Those other sides are supposed to be for fine grating, but they only really work for vegetables. I use my Cuisinart for all grating now. I got sick of bloody cheese and knuckles that resembled hamburger rather than parts of my fingers.

    1.  I have trouble breaking out any food processor type thingys. It seems like more trouble than they’re worth. Unless you’re talking about those little mini food processors that you just throw in the dishwasher. I’m such a kitchen idiot.

      1. I have the Cuisinart Duo, so it’s a food processor and a blender. I LOVE it. And yes, the parts can be put in a dishwasher. You should look into it. Other than it’s loud as hell, it’s really a godsend for me and my ulnar neuritis ridden hands.

        1.  A food processor AND a blender?? AND it goes in the dishwasher? Sign me up!

              1.  I hate ugly appliances. LOL

  10. I am dying laughing, because I have NO IDEA what the other 3 sides are for either! AhahhahaHHahHHA

    1.  It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in this!

      1. I am totally challenged in the kitchen. Seriously.

  11. Vicnotes says:

    I thought this post was a riot! I have several kitchen utensils that I am unsure of their purpose but hesitate to throw them away because some day I may actually learn what they do! And think it’s very cool…

    1.  Thanks, Vicnotes! And a great way to learn what those mysterious objects do, as you can see, is ask the internets!

  12. Shrinky says:

    Och, everyone has already beaten me to the nutmeg and parmesan answers, so I’m just going to have to pull up a stool and wit for your next blog-post, now.  Do you have any biscuits (cookies’ll do)?

    1. Biscuits? Are you by any chance British? I might have some Hob Nobs around here. 🙂

  13. One side is for hard cheeses  and the finer one is to zest a lemon, lime or orange. 

    My DIL, The Latin Lovin’ Hillbilly, had two different trips to the ER within’ a week hackin’ two different fingers.  One she lopped of the whole stinkin’ end before she knew what happend. 

    God bless ya and have yorself a marvelous Easter Weekend sweetie.  :o)

    1.  Youch! Graters scare me. My knuckles shrink in terror when they see me pull out the grater.  

      You have a beautiful Easter too, darlin’!

  14. Angela Knutsen says:

    Nutmeg.  The very small ones could be for that.  It smells nicer freshly grated.

    1.  Nutmeg! Thank you! I’m learning so much today!

  15. Chibi Takaya says:

    We use one of those smaller-holed sides for grating cassavas for something some Northern Nigerians call “waina”– fried grated cassavas with salt and pepper.

    1.  Awesome. This falls under one of those trivia nugget items! Thanks for that interesting tidbit of info, Chibi!  Now, I have to find out what cassavas are. 😉

      1. Chibi Takaya says:

        Lol! Cassavas are starchy, high fibre tubers that can be boiled, fried or grated and eaten with stews.

        And a little more info here:

        1.  Wow! Thanks, Chibi. I’m learning something new every day. I’d heard the word before but never got off my behind to go look it up.

  16. Debby says:

    How do you make scalloped potatoes without the slicing side? I mean, slicing a bucket of potatoes with a knife takes forever, and the slices are not uniform, and yes, you have to watch your fingers, but…

    1.  You mean you use REAL potatoes to make scalloped potatoes? I thought Betty Crocker did that for you. Well, I’m learning more and more from you guys every day!

  17. Slommler says:

    Those sides always puzzled me as well!!  Ha!  Glad you ask the big questions…now I can await the “ahha” moment!!  When all will be made clear!

    1.  I knew I could count on my people to help me out, even at the risk of announcing my own ignorance. So, as you may or may not have seen by now one side is for hard cheeses and the even tinier side is for zesting. So there you go.

  18. Nicky says:

    The broader side on the left is for hard cheeses, like parmesan. The smaller side on the right is for zesting.

    Zesting is what you do when a recipe calls for lemon, lime or orange zest. You take the lemon, lime or orange and you scrape it along the right side there to end up with the zest.

    I’m beginning to get a better understanding of why you only make mac-n-cheese from a box.

    Oh, and Julia Child will forever remain hip.

    1.  I blame my mother. She raised me on boxed food. And you got here before I could call you out as I have written yet another cheese-related post. I really like cheese. I should find some cheese tasting class or something so I can get mahself more sophistimacated about it.

  19. MsChick74 says:

    One of those sides is for hard cheeses like asiago and parmesan. At least thats what I’m lead to believe…

    1.  Actually, my niece told me it was for “zesting”. What the hell is zesting?

      1. Jayne says:

        I know!  I know!  (hand in air)  Pick me!   Zesting is when you want to finely grate the peel of an orange or a lemon to add to a recipe of usually bread or muffins of some kind.   You’re welcome.  

        1.  I swear this blog is giving me a great education. Thank you, my dear!

  20. Pricilla says:

    You know the Parmesan you get in the green can……?