I have to admit that on Monday I wasn’t certain what I would write about today. It’s been one of those weeks, right? But Tuesday morning I was putting together a crock pot dish before work, and when I started grating the ginger it dawned on me—Microplane’s excellent (and sharp!) kitchen tools. I have the zester/grater pictured above (in red), and a spice grater sans handle, both of which I use on a fairly regular basis.
Aside from being well made, extremely sharp and impossibly sturdy (I’ve had mine for five or six years), I love that they’re made right here in Arkansas, about an hour or so north of Little Rock. Located in Russellville (aka RussVegas), Microplane started out innocently enough as a woodworking tool, created by brothers Jeff and Richard Grace, whose company manufactured parts for the printing industry. But it was a Canadian woman more than 1,400 miles away who helped bring Microplane into our kitchens.
And it’s a great story. From Microplane.com:
“The big moment came in 1994, when Lorraine Lee, a homemaker in Ottawa, Canada, was making an Armenian orange cake. Out of frustration with her old grater, she picked up a new tool her husband, Leonard, had brought home from their hardware store, Lee Valley Tools. She slid the orange across its blades and was amazed. Lacy shards of zest fell from its surface like snowflakes. The Lees marveled at the tool, ate the cake, then promptly changed the product description in their catalogue. The Microplane® grater had earned permanent space in the kitchen.”
How fantastic is that? And now, 15 years later, with several tools to chose from, Microplane is sold around the world, and available everywhere from Amazon to Williams-Sonoma (as well as on the company’s own site). Here, a sampling of their wares.
The Gourmet Series fine grater is designed for puréeing onions, garlic and ginger, and makes grating hard spices like cinnamon and nutmeg a breeze.
The Professional Series coarse grater features a stainless-steel handle instead of plastic, and is ideal for chocolate, coconut and cheeses.
Also from the Professional Series, the large shaver produces wide curls of chocolate and cheeses, making it a good choice for topping off desserts and salads, and would also be great for creating veggies chips for snacking.
The four-sided box grater gets a safe and stylish makeover here—a sturdy handle and rubber grips on the feet prevent slipping—and includes fine, medium and extra-coarse blades, as well as a slicer blade on the side.
Make quick and easy work of all sorts of hard and soft cheese, fruits and vegetables with the hand-held slicer. The blade is adjustable, and the slicer includes a food holder that protects fingers from the ultra-sharp stainless-steel blade. A must-have in every home cook’s arsenal, the peeler boasts a straight-edge blade and a soft, ergonomic handle.
I may have mentioned that Microplane’s wares are quiet sharp—the stainless-steel blades are specially created to have very sharp cutting surfaces. Most of the hand-held tools come with blade covers to keep them safe while being stored, but if you’re particularly accident prone, one of the company’s cut-resistant safety gloves might be a good choice. Especially if you’re preparing large quantities and tend to speed through this sort of prep work.