I’m not a fan of cleaning my box grater. It shreds up my sponge and I never feel like I’m getting quite everything out. So, if I don’t need to shred in a recipe, I use it as a time to practice my chopping skills.
However, it does matter how you slice it—according to Christopher Kimball. In his newest cookbook, Milk Street: The New Home Cooking, the former America's Test Kitchen host explains that shredding root vegetables like carrots, turnips, or yams makes them taste both sweeter and fresher.
The more cells you rupture, the better the taste.
“When the vegetable is cut, its cells rupture and release sugars and volatile hydrocarbons, the sources of the vegetables' sweetness and aroma,” he writes. "The more cells you rupture, the better the taste.”
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Nothing’s wrong with chopping or slicing, but there’s no getting around the fact that shredding is the best way to rupture cells.
For carrots harvested in the spring and summer, you don’t need to peel before shredding—just wash them well. Late-season carrots harvested in fall can have bitter skin and benefit from being peeled. But go ahead and taste one first and use your judgement.
I still think cleaning my box grater is a pain… but thanks to Kimball’s tip, I have a pretty sweet reason to get shredding. Want your own? Check out these grate (hehe) recipes: