It’s time to visit another tool that is hard to live without in our kitchen. Actually, to be more specific…a family of tools – Microplane graters.
If you have followed our page at all, you know that we use fresh ginger…a lot. Take a look at the tag cloud on the bottom left, and you’ll see that it is arguably one of the biggest (the word size is based on the frequency we use that word as a tag…in case you’re wondering). But fresh ginger is a bit tough to use as it comes – a brown-skinned root that is a a little woody around the outside. So, we have two ways we’ll usually make it ready to use in our recipes: mince it, or shred it. And when we shred it, there is no better way to do it than on our fine-bladed adjustable microplane grater.
This particular one you won’t find on the Microplane site. It’s an exclusive from Pampered Chef (seriously – host a party, get a bunch of friends to come over and buy a few things, and relish in the free and reduced-price stuff you get in return…that’s how we did it!). What makes this one especially handy, even compared to most microplanes, is the adjustable handle. By pushing it sideways (it’s spring-loaded), you can adjust it from a straight handle (similar to this one) to a free-standing “box-style” grater like in the photo above. You can also fold the handle fully flat against the back of the grater for more compact storage (and it has a cover for the front to protect it in storage).
This is also our preferred tool for shaving dark or pure chocolate for recipes or grating spices such as nutmeg, allspice, or cinnamon. And when we are using the zest of different citrus rinds in a PP recipe, this again will be the tool we grab. Even when we choose to use the occasional hard cheese like parmesan or asiago, we turn to this versatile little grater. And after more than 5 years of using it at least four or more times a week, it is still as sharp as when we got it.
The other Microplane grater in our kitchen is one that appears to now be discontinued – their two-sided box grater (the replacement model appears to be this one). While the upper adjustable grater is about 7″ tall and 2-1/2″ wide (just right for holding over a bowl or pan), this grater is a hefty 11″ tall and about 5″ wide. And even though this one does have a fine-bladed insert on the other side, we use this one almost exclusively for the large blades.
Shredding zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, pastured cheese, or even fresh coconut is no problem with this sturdy and sure-footed grater. It will set firmly on top of a cutting board or plate thanks to the soft rubber feet on the bottom. And clean-up is simple – just stand it up in the dishwasher (the same goes for the one above as well). And after as many or more years of steady use, it too is as sharp as when we got it – not something I could say for any of the previous box graters I have ever owned.
I’ll end this with just one more little bit of input. Both of the individual photos above show these graters with a mandolin-style attachment for feeding the item to be grated and minimizing the risk of introducing special “seasoning” to the recipe you are preparing. Yes, we have those attachments for ours (they are not in place in this last photo). Do they work? Yes – in a “we need a way to limit our liability for bleeding knuckles and shredded fingertips” sort of way, they work great. And I suppose that they work for holding food against the blades as well…but as you get down to the end it will simply slip through the gap left to clear the blades (as all such attachments and gadgets do).
Since I’m the kind of guy who likes to use every last little bit of an ingredient, I tend to simply hold what I’m grating directly in my hands. But then, I’ve got the scars on a fingertip or two to help remind me to slow down when I am getting down to the smaller end of things…and I’m also not the sort of person who will try blame someone else for my own bone-headed manuevers. So use the attachments as directed, or at least some common sense and good judgement!