Equipment - Microplane 40020 Grater/Zester (Guest Post)

It's been a busy weekend.  Here's another awesome guest post from my good friend Jimmy!

"Last September, I built up the courage to make an orange souffle, which called for a generous tablespoon of orange zest. I consulted with my fellow foodies on the Internet (i.e., Googled "How to zest oranges"), who told me to peel the skin off the orange and scrape away the pith (bitter white part) with a paring knife. This worked well, but the 10 minutes that were spent scraping away pith could've been spent on more important things (like making the actual souffle). Later that night, I went back online and did some more research on how to zest citrus fruits. That was when I discovered... *dramatic pause*... the Microplane.

I am usually a sucker for cool kitchen gadgets, but I left this item on my Amazon wish list and never bought it because I don't use orange or lemon zest that often. A few weeks ago, however, I bought a block of parmigiano reggiano and wanted something that would create those beautiful strands of cheese that you often see in pasta cookbooks and food blogs. I looked around on Amazon for a highly-rated cheese grater and, lo and behold, there was the Microplane again. This time, I didn't hesitate to add this item to my cart, since I love pasta and had a block of cheese waiting in the fridge. Two days later, I received the Microplane and started grating everything in sight. After a good half hour playing with a potentially dangerous kitchen tool, I decided on my four favorite uses for the Microplane: the first two are for cheese and citrus zest, of course, and the other two are for garlic and ginger.

When testing how well the Microplane grated cheese, I decided to be scientific in my approach. Other handheld graters vary in number of holes and the size of the plane, so I wanted to see how much cheese I could get out of five full grates across the plane.

From the picture, you can see that five runs across the plane yield quite a lot of cheese, but the thing that surprised me the most was how little effort I had to use to get that amount of cheese. Before, I used a box grater and had to use a lot of pressure to get a good yield, but the Microplane requires little pressure, meaning less work and less chance of pushing too hard and grating your own hand. 

My next test was lemon zest (or any citrus zest). Before I go on, however, I need to stress the importance of washing and scrubbing your citrus fruits before zesting because the surface may contain debris or pesticides. Anyway, I wanted to see how much lemon zest I could get and how much time it took to completely zest one medium lemon.

I got approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest after about 20 seconds zesting. Yes, that's right. It took only 20 seconds to zest one medium lemon. Amazing, isn't it? And you can tell that none of the pith got into the zest because the zested lemon (in the background) still looks slightly yellow.

Next up is garlic. During my pre-Microplane days, I used to chop and mince garlic by hand, which was an annoying inconvenience because the pieces get stuck to your hands and knife. I considered getting a garlic press, but single-purpose gadgets don't appeal to me (or my wallet). After getting the Microplane, I discovered that I can get garlic puree if I grated the garlic. 

You still get the same amount of garlic flavor as you would if you minced it, but you don't have to get out the cutting board or deal with sticky garlic pieces. You can forget about prep and grate the garlic right into the food as you're cooking. Sounds good to me. I also tried grating ginger and got the same result.

One quick tip about ginger if you didn't know already: to peel ginger, scrape off the skin with a metal spoon. If you're going to grate it on the Microplane, keep the entire ginger root intact and only peel the section that you need to grate; use the rest of the ginger as a handle to keep your fingers safe from the Microplane.

Besides cheese, lemon zest, ginger and garlic, you can also use the Microplane for shaving chocolate as a dessert garnish or grating whole pieces of nutmeg into spinach or white sauces. This multipurpose gadget is worth a lot more than the retail price of $13 and is a must-have for any home cook. The only downside of this product is it's incredibly sharp "teeth"; you really need to be careful when washing the Microplane as it has the reputation of being a sponge destroyer. 

I hope you enjoyed my review of the Microplane 40020 Grater/Zester. And to answer your question: No, I'm not a spokesperson for Microplane. I just really love the product.

Special thanks for Minerva for allowing me to contribute to her wonderful blog. Keep up the good work!"