What defines cheesecloth Grades?

Cheesecloth is available in at least five different grades, from open (or loose) weave to fine weave. Grades are determined by the number of threads per inch in each direction. Here’s a table of the most common cheesecloth grades.

GradeVertical x Horizontal Threads/InchVertical x Horizontal Threads/cm
1020 x 128 x 5
4024 x 209.5 x 8
5028 x 2411 x 9.5
6032 x 2812.5 x 11
9044 x 3617.5 x 14

Cheesecloth in Food Preparation

Cheesecloth is used in straining stocks and custards, bundling herbs, making tofu and ghee, and thickening yogurt. The fruitcake is wrapped in rum-infused cheesecloth during the process of “feeding” the fruitcake with rum as it ripens. Where cheesecloth gets its name, and the primary use for grade 60 cheesecloth, is in the production of cheese. The cloth is used to remove whey from cheese curds and help hold the curds together as the cheese is formed. If you’ve ever tried to make cheese, but found mold ruins your efforts,
try soaking a piece of cheesecloth or floursacks in white vinegar. Squeeze out the vinegar until just damp. Wrap the block of cheese in the cloth, then store win a container in the fridge.

Cheesecloth in Printing

The versatile cloth is used for several printmaking processes, including lithography, for wiping up gum arabic. In intaglio, a heavily-starched open (grade 10 or 40) cheesecloth called tarlatan is used to remove excess ink from the printing surface. Tartalan is also used to wipe of printer’s ink when printing plates need cleaning between presses. The open weave makes the cloth extremely absorbent. You may even recognize Tartalan from being used in book bindings.

Binding book spines by hand.

Bleached Cheesecloths

Cheesecloth in Safety Testing

Cheesecloth #60 is used in device safety and regulatory testing for potential fire hazards. Cheesecloth is wrapped tightly around the device. Then subjected to simulated conditions such as electrical surges conducted through power or phone cables. The device may be destroyed but cannot ignite the cheesecloth. This ensures that the device can fail safely without starting electrical fires.

Cheesecloth in Halloween Decorating

Cheesecloth can be an amazing decorating hack. Inflate a large outdoor white balloon. Use a marker to paint on big black eyes and scary mouths. Cover with grade 10 cheesecloth and loosely tie or use tape to ensure the cheesecloth doesn’t blow away. Hang high for floating ghosts.  You may also blow up a balloon and pin it to a table. Dip grade 10 or 40 cheesecloth in a bowl of white glue, squeeze out excess, and drape it over the balloon and let dry. Pop the balloon and add eyes for a freestanding ghost table decoration.

Less popular, more divergent uses of cheesecloth include:

Clothing

Grades 60 & 90 Cheesecloth material (also known as muslin) was used to make shirts and coveralls that became fashionable for beachwear during the 1960s and 1970s.

Spiritual Fakery

Different cheesecloth grades have been used to create the illusion of “ectoplasm” during spirit channeling or other ghost-related phenomena.

Anatomical Dissection

Cheesecloth is used in laboratories to slow drying of corpses. The cloth is soaked with a chemical solution such as formalin, then the specimen is enveloped to prevent desiccation.

If you need cheesecloth, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Lucy, our resident expert on all grades and uses of the versatile fabric.

Lucy Bauccio

[email protected]

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