A Microplane® grater is a kitchen tool developed by the Microplane Company, based in the United States. The design was introduced in the mid 1990s, and several other companies followed suit with similar concepts, since it was such as hit with cooks. There are a number of uses for a Microplane® grater, ranging from zesting lemons to grating culinary spices like nutmeg. Many kitchen supply stores sell an assortment of Microplane® graters for various needs, and they can be ordered through Internet retailers as well.
Initially, the company set out to develop a better woodworking rasp. The design of a Microplane® grater includes a series of small, etched teeth, rather than stamped teeth, which are more common. The etching process leaves each tooth of the Microplane® grater razor sharp. As a result, cooks have an immense amount of control over their grating processes, and the tool can be used for a range of things.
A basic Microplane® grater actually looks a great deal like a woodworking rasp, with a long toothy body and a short handle. The teeth can be made in various sizes, to allow cooks to delicately zest lemons with a zester, create ribbons from vegetables with a ribbon grater, or coarsely grate cheese using a box grater. Since the teeth of a Microplane® grater are very sharp, it usually comes with a protective cover to prevent accidental injury.
In addition to flat graters, Microplanes are available in a number of configurations. Rotary graters are designed for grating things like Parmesan cheese and nutmeg in a rotating drum which can be cranked by hand. Box graters may stand upright, and they often include teeth in varying sizes for different functions. It is also possible to find a Microplane® grater which clips into a box, allowing cooks to neatly grate ingredients into a container.
Since a Microplane® grater is very sharp, care needs to be taken when handling and cleaning it. The graters need to be hand washed, as running them through a dishwasher may damage the blades. By following the blades, rather than pushing against them, cleaning a Microplane® grater is relatively easy. The grater should be allowed to completely dry before being placed back into a protective sheath and stored out of the reach of children. Try to hold a Microplane® grater by the handle as much as possible, rather than gripping the toothed area, as a slip of the hand may result in Microplaned fingers.