Pros: Incredibly effective; storage; easy shaking; attractive
Cons: You can still grate your fingertips (although not so easily!)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
First published 3/10/2005
Review item courtesy of Microplane Media Division.
Of the nutmeg and spice graters I’ve tried so far, the Microplane Grate-N-Shake is my favorite. It’s a small thing, easy to hold in the palm of your hand. It has a couple of divots you can fit your thumb and finger into, the better to hold onto the bottom part of it without any slipping. It separates into two pieces. The lid is a compartment that can hold several whole nutmegs, with a sliding lid to keep them in. This sliding lid comes off easily and fits back in snugly. Try not to overfill the compartment, however, as you don’t want to risk wedging the lid.
This part fits onto the bottom, which consists of a microplane surgical steel grater that similarly slides into place over a clear acrylic chamber. The grater is very fine and very sharp, and produces the most amazing powder of nutmeg without completely pulverizing the spice into nothingness (in other words, it retains just enough form to look attractive sprinkled on top of eggnog or something similar). The sharp blades are fantastic–I was amazed by how little time and effort it took to produce the ground nutmeg.
The sliding grater has a double row of small holes at the bottom through which you can shake out the spice (hence the “grate-n-shake” name). I expected that the small size of the two rows would result in uneven shaking, but it actually works quite well. If instead you need to measure out your nutmeg, you can simply slide out the grater (just like the lid to the nutmeg compartment) and spoon out the nutmeg. Then, because the grater fits together snugly, you can leave any extra stored inside rather than tossing it out.
In fact, the only negative I can find is that since you’re using your fingers (one grater I’ve tried is finger-free), you can end up grating your fingertips when you get down to the end of the nutmeg if you aren’t careful. However, because the blades of this grater are angled nearly horizontally, you can get a lot further through a nutmeg before this becomes a worry than you can with an old-style kitchen grater. And the grate-n-shake avoids a number of problems that the finger-free mill has, so it still comes out on top as far as I’m concerned.
You can also use the grate-n-shake for cinnamon or similar things. It’s compact, sturdy, easy to store, and… well, cute. It fits well in the palm of the hand, and it’s incredibly effective. So far it’s the best nutmeg grater or grinder I’ve used. The only thing that could make it better would be a way of grinding up the last of a nutmeg without endangering fingertips.