Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hands On - Grating

It is great to grate.  I have grate expectations for today's blog.  Is this grating on you?  Ok I will stop.  I hope you are grateful.

Seriously, folks, my kitchen contains several graters.  Maybe I could live without one or all of them, but our meals would suffer.  The kinds of graters you might need in your kitchen depends on your cooking style and the kinds of dishes you like to prepare.  If you want to be equipped for most basic tasks, I suggest you acquire the following four types if you don't already have them. 

1.  Microplane - type grater

Microplane(TM) - The long grater with the black handle in the picture is a real Microplane.  This one is for fine grating but you can also get Microplane graters for other tasks.  Microplanes are a relatively recent invention (1994) in the world of graters but they have quickly taken their place in many kitchens.  They are very sharp and  they come in various shapes and sizes.  Here is a link. I use mine mostly for grating very hard cheeses like Parmesan.  I like the length because I can grate more cheese faster.  I also use this tool when I need finely grated citrus zest or nutmeg. (If you use any amount of nutmeg, it really is worth it to take the trouble to grate fresh whole nutmeg instead of using pre-ground.)  You may need to go to higher end kitchen supply places to find this brand.  They are available on the Target website but I am not sure they are stocked in the stores - I couldn't find any in Winona anyway.

Cuisipro  (Accutec) graters
This is the stainless steel flat grater you see in the picture.  It performs similarly to the Microplane.  This one happens to have larger openings, so it is good for tasks where I want a coarser end product.  I think both the Microplane and Cuisipro brands are quite good.  Each company has its own patented process.  You might choose based on price, design and the degree of fineness or coarseness you desire.  The Cuisipro website:
Again, you can find some styles of this brand on the Target website but I couldn't find any in the store I went to in Winona.

2.  Box grater
I still like my reliable old box grater for many basic jobs.  I have to admit that I hardly ever use any side other than the large hole one now that I have my Microplane and Cuisipro.  This is a workhorse.  I have had this one for 25 years and it is still going strong.  I wonder if new ones made in China would stand up as well?   Target sells several models box grater made by Oxo.  They are quite affordable.  I also saw a flat grater at Target for $9.64 which had two sizes of coarse holes - one on each side.  It looked like it would be comfortable and easy to use and good for different kinds of cheeses and maybe vegetables too.  Not too bulky. Had little rubber feet. 

Carrots, beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, cucumbers or cheese such as cheddar or swiss -- all these grate up just fine on the coarse side of my box grater.   If the cheese is a softer variety like  monterey jack or some kinds of mozzarella, it sometimes wants to ball up and not stay in nice separate shreds.  At that point I think I would give up and cut it into little cubes with a knife and forget the grating.  You could buy pre-shredded cheese in those convenient bags.  But it will cost you more.

I made a salad yesterday using my box grater.  I grated raw beets and kohlrabi and a little onion.  Added some olive oil and red wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar and salt and a few spoons of sunflower seeds.  Very tasty.

 3.  Food processor
You could turn out hundreds and even thousands of different meals and never use a food processor.  But now that these machines have been invented it is pretty hard to ignore them.  If you have a lot of grating to do it is very nice to have a food processor with a grating attachment.  Depending on the design of your machine it is sometimes a pain to get things to fit in the feed tube.  That is why for smaller jobs sometimes you are better off just reaching for the simple box grater or a Microplane.

4.  Ginger grater
This is the round white item in the picture.  These are inexpensive and don't take up much space.  If you cook very often with fresh ginger (and I hope you do - especially if you like stir fry) then you really should have one of these. Just peel the ginger and rub it back and forth on the little ceramic teeth.  The ginger and juice piles up and the stringy fibers stay with the chunk of ginger.

Tomorrow:  Focus - Beets


  1. I find parmesan more flavorful when i grate it less fine than with the microplane--something about its flavor crystals. I use the fine microplane for citrus and ginger and nutmeg.

  2. Good tip - I will try that. It makes sense that if the cheese is a bit more dense it would pack more punch.

  3. Paulette JohnsonJuly 9, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Great Ideas! I enjoy learning what to do different with the veggies. do you have any suggestions for Parsley?Storage for future use? Maybe i missed it in the past.

  4. Paulette - see June 25 post on Parsley for storage and use tips. My parsley lasts a long time in a jar of cold water in the refrigerator - covered with a plastic bag.