Microplane Grater/Zester

Pros: Easy on the hands; very sharp; dishwasher-safe; makes shallow cuts; nice size
Cons: VERY sharp!
Rating: 5 out of 5

First published 1/7/2005

We do a lot of cooking, so we often have occasion to zest and grate things like lemon and orange peel. This can be tough for a number of reasons. I have tendonitis, and most of those things require you to curve your stiffened fingers around in ways that I find painful. Some of them so munge the peel that it releases most of the oils in the peel, which isn’t very attractive, nor very easy on my sensitive skin. Some zesters can also be tough to clean the oils off of.

Not the Microplane!

First, the handle is large, reminiscent of Oxo products, which makes it easy on my hands. The long, flat shape of the zester (as well as its extreme sharpness) also means that you simply drag it across your orange, lime or lemon instead of having to curve it around.

It easily shreds the top layer of zest. It does a much thinner cut than I’m used to, which means you don’t get any of that bitter white pith in with your zest. Zesting goes very quickly, and because the zester doesn’t squish and compact the zest, you don’t lose those precious delicious oils–and you don’t get them all over your fingers. The zest also goes farther since it doesn’t get turned into sludge.

Best of all, the zester can go in the dishwasher! Of course you want to be careful where you put it so there’s no chance you’ll accidentally grab it by the “blade” end–this thing is very sharp. The dishwasher has always done a perfect job of cleaning the zester for us; the surface of the zester is such a nice, smooth metal that it doesn’t catch and hold a lot of cruft. The metal is also strong, and so far has shown no tendency to bend or break.

The Microplane isn’t simply a long, flat grater. Its sides curve around a little, almost like a very wide, very shallow “u”. This means that if you hold it flat while you grate something, with the sides pointing upward, the zester will hold a fair amount of whatever it is you’re grating so it doesn’t go all over the place.

There are only a couple of things that might conceivably be considered negatives. First, it isn’t designed to produce those long threads of zest that special zesters are, so you can’t use it for decorative purposes. Second, you do need to be very careful of the sharp bits. They’re part of what make this thing so useful, but they’re also quite dangerous!

Note that this thing grates/zests fairly finely. “Shredding” really is a pretty good word for what it does; you end up with tiny little shreds of whatever it is you’re grating.

Fun trivia: Microplane graters were originally designed for woodworking purposes, and are made of surgical-grade steel!

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