When brothers Richard and Jeff Grace invented the Microplane® rasp in 1990, they weren’t envisioning it in the hands of cooks. The long, thin tool with sharp ridges was designed to mount on a hacksaw for smoothing and shaping wood, but innovative home cooks started using it to zest oranges and grate ginger root. By the mid-’90s, the handheld grater was better known for its utility in the kitchen than the woodshop.
Compared to bulky box graters (also called “shredders”), rasp graters have a slim structure and are about the size of a bread knife. They have a comfortable grip, and are lightweight and easy to store. Although box graters have a variety of blade sizes stamped into each of their three or four metal panels, they don’t produce the delicate ribbons of zest or a fine, paste-like grate like the rasp does, which shaves (rather than tears) soft and hard foods.
Gently glide any variety of citrus, hard cheeses or solid spices over the rasp to add a burst of concentrated flavor to salad dressings, pastas, breads and beverages. It’s ideal for zesting lemons, limes and oranges because the tiny holes won’t pick up the pith (bitter white part of the skin). Gently drag the fruit over the rasp and the zest will collect on the underside of the tool.
Zest adds a high dose of flavor to dressings, breads and cold drinks. Harder foods such as nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and chocolate can be easily grated and added into desserts and savory dishes. Create lacy threads of hard cheese to top your favorite pasta, meatballs or salads. The choices are endless and the flavor experience is like no other.