Once a woodworking tool, the Microplane is a culinary tool that makes everything easier, from shaving chocolate to grating ginger. Here are some tips and tricks for using your Microplane.
The Microplane that now helps you grate cheese first made its way into the kitchen in the '90s. Brothers Richard and Jeff Grace of the Russellville, Ark.-based Grace Manufacturing Inc. had the idea of repurposing the sharp metal that came with making parts for high-tech printers to cut things on purpose. The tool's edges are created with photo-etching, a process in which chemicals dissolve holes and leave the edges prime for slicing. Today, Microplane manufactures a variety of graters and kitchen products, along with personal care and woodworking tools.
The Microplane is great for zesting citrus, a process in which you scrape the outer, colorful skin of fruits like oranges, lemons and limes to use in recipes and to add flavor to food. It is also a popular way to grate cinnamon, nutmeg and blocks of salt. Other Microplane uses include mincing garlic, shredding coconut, grating hard cheeses like Parmesan and Romano, and shaving chocolate to garnish desserts.
"One of my favorite things is to freeze those overripe tomatoes in the summer that will have a bad texture if eaten raw and, once frozen, microplane them and you have instant tomato granita or tomato ice," says Rick Gresh, the executive chef of David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago. "It's a great garnish for seafood, tartars, or in savory ice cream cones."
Barbara Arends, a recipe applications specialist with the Pampered Chef, suggests grating onions or shallots for "onion juice" to use for salad dressing. You can also use the Microplane on slightly burnt cookies, similar to the way you would scrape burnt toast with a butter knife, she says.
Set up your station before you begin using the Microplane. Use a clean cutting board or a flat plate to catch the shavings.
Most Microplanes are dishwasher-safe, but it is better to wash the Microplane with warm soapy water immediately after use. Use a sponge to get rid of any pieces of food that are stuck in the blades, and then let air dry. Keep the Microplane covered when storing. Mind your fingers when using a Microplane so you do not get hurt.