Whether you're a crafter or a home cook, it often feels like there are so many tools you can purchase to help you get a job done. Which ones are really worth investing in? Our editors are here to help. From everyday essentials to more obscure must-haves that will take your practice to the next level, we're breaking it all down. Each week Tool of the Trade will highlight one must-have crafting or cooking item you need to know about.
What Is It?
The Microplane is a rasp-style grater with lots of small, exceptionally sharp blades. Microplane is a registered trademark of the Grace manufacturing company, which started out selling these products as woodworking tools. It was serendipity that Microplane graters found their way into the kitchen in the mid-90s, where they've been a vital tool for restaurant chefs and home cooks ever since.
How Is It Used?
The Microplane grater's fine, sharp blades come in handy for loads of different kitchen tasks. Chances are, if you've ever encountered a Microplane grater in a kitchen or a restaurant dining room, you've seen it grate Parmesan cheese. The fluffy, ethereal piles of cheese fall effortlessly from the Microplane's blades, giving your pasta maximum coverage and flavor.
It's also essential for zesting citrus: a Microplane allows you to get just the thin, colorful, oil-rich surface layer from the skin of lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruit while avoiding the bitter white pith that lies just underneath. Zip a hunk of chocolate along the blades of a Microplane to create fine shavings for decorating cakes, pies, and other desserts. You can also grate large, whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon sticks on the Microplane. The result is twice as fragrant as using pre-ground spices. And if you're lucky enough to get your hands on a fresh truffle someday, use a Microplane grater to stretch that truffle and spread maximum flavor over everything.
Why We Love It
Most graters are created through a stamping process, which creates blades that are the same thickness as the rest of the grater's body. Microplane manufactures its graters with photo-etching, a chemical process that creates supremely sharp teeth.
Our Editor's Pick
Though Microplane now makes dozens of different graters custom-designed for specific jobs, we still love the classic design for its extreme versatility. Its blade is eight inches long and one inch wide with a plastic handle for easy gripping.