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What is a microplane?

MicroplaneAdding zest from fresh citrus is one of the easiest and best ways to brighten up the flavor of a dish, or to infuse an extra burst into some baked goods. For years, however, getting the zest – the brightly colored outer part of the rind – from citrus was a tricky business. Your options were to either peel the fruit as best you could and add thin slices of zest into a recipe, or, if you were lucky, to use a regular zester to scrape long slices of zest from the citrus’ skin. These days, all you need is a microplane and adding zest to a recipe becomes easier than you could imagine.

A microplane is a rasp-like grater, developed by the Microplane Company, that hit the market in the 1990s.  It is based on the design for a woodworking rasp, and has a long metal shaft covered with small, sharp metal teeth. These teeth don’t cut down far into the fruit, just far enough into the rind to get the flavorful zest off, shredding it into very fine ribbons that easily incorporate into any recipe. Microplanes are extremely efficient, and once you have used one, you’ll never go back to any other method of zesting fruit.

For those interested in multipurpose kitchen products, a microplane can also be used to grate hard cheeses, like Parmesan, and to grate spices, like nutmeg. The teeth are extremely sharp, even though they are small, so be careful if you choose to grate smaller spices (or other things) with the microplane so that you don’t accidentally grate a fingertip or two!

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  • gigi
    March 3, 2009

    I received a microplane last year as a gift. I have no idea how I was able to cook/bake without it! It has just made everything that requires grating so easy. 🙂

  • Marguerite
    March 3, 2009

    I love my microplane!! But I need to create some kind of thumb armor for when I use it!

  • Dani
    March 3, 2009

    i will always nick myself with these so i use the peeler one

  • Cecily T
    March 3, 2009

    I’m young enough that I don’t ever remember *not* having these in my kitchen. Being a fan of Cook’s Illustrated, I learned about it there, but really, I had never even thought about what else I might use to get zest off of a fruit. With my knife skills, I probably would be forced to just give up (or call my hubby into the kitchen to peel for me).

  • aleta
    March 3, 2009

    Oh yes yes yes! I love my microplaner more than anything, it might actually be in my top five kitchen tools (the first being a big old pot). I like using it with cinnamon stick and hard cheeses, (not at the same time). Mmm!

  • Linda
    March 3, 2009

    One of my favorite kitchen tools!

  • deeba
    March 4, 2009

    A microplane is my fave gadget, & in my opinion the best thing that happened to kitchen tools. I even use it for the quick garlic paste for a marinade/dalad dressing, & like wise for ginger.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    March 4, 2009

    Nic, I got one in London in 2007 (they are impossible to find here in Brazil) and it’s become a favorite. Can’t imagine my life without it anymore. 😀

  • Eagle
    March 4, 2009

    Heck, I nick my fingers just cleaning this sucker! I love it, it’s very useful in the kitchen, but I wish I could figure out a better way to clean it.

  • granuaile
    March 5, 2009

    oh yes! i love my microplane.
    they are super expensive here in the Netherlands. so when i was in the states last year….. i bought one. they are super cheap over there! i love mine. i use it at least 4 times a week. can’t do without. garlic. cheese. nutmeg. ginger (! for my favorite drink: pear, ginger & ground cinnamon)
    microplane is on my wish list for my next trip to the states. and not only for me! for my aunt, my sister, my friend!

  • omega
    April 29, 2010

    What is a microplane Baking Bites very nice, This article write well. I has been collection it. 2010/14/14

  • […] Microplanes are great tools to have around the kitchen because they really simplify a number of different tasks. They are ideal for zesting citrus fruits, make it easy to grate whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, and are great for doing a quick shred of hard cheeses, like parmesan. If you really want to get your money’s worth out, you can even use them to mince garlic by rubbing a clove over the fine, sharp grates. Microplanes are touted as being easy to clean, and while they’re not difficult, it can take a little experimentation to figure out the best way to get all the food out of those tiny little holes. […]

  • […] flavor during storage. To grate or grind it yourself, you can either use a nutmeg grinder or a microplane. If only a small amount of nutmeg is called for in a recipe, a few grinds should be enough to […]

  • […] to have is a grater on hand and you can have fresh nutmeg for a batch of eggnog anytime!You can use a microplane to grate nutmeg, but I really like nutmeg mills for this spice. Nutmeg mills are built to both […]

  • […] carefully with a sharp pairing knife, but the easiest and best way to remove the zest is with a microplane. Wash your fruit very, very well before zesting it – or try to buy organic/unwaxed fruit – so […]

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