My mom bought me the Microplane handheld zester a few years back. I suppose some people won’t understand the need for a tool solely designed to remove zest from citrus fruit. If that’s all I could do with the Microplane, I’d still love it. I bake a lot and until I used the Microplane zester, I’d never found a good way to remove the zest from citrus fruit without getting some of the pith, and if I succeeded at that, it was difficult to get the particles small enough for even distribution in my doughs, sauces, or custards.
Along came Microplane and changed my life. What used to be a 5 minute project is now a 30 second act. Easy-peasy, all zest, no pith. Like I said, if that’s all my Microplane grater could do, I’d be okay with that. But it’s uses are, essentially, limited by my imagination. I’ve used it to grate chocolate for decorations, nutmeg, cinnamon, parmesan, ginger and garlic.
Its uses make the Microplane zester/grater a kitchen tool to want, even for a kitchen spartan like me. I don’t have a potato ricer, a rice steamer, or an apple corer; I don’t like single-use bulky gadgets.
As for durability, I’ve had my microplane zester for more than 3 years, and there’s nary a hint of rust; more amazingly, the blades still seem as sharp as they did the day I used it for the first time. The price is right, at less than $13 for the all purpose zester/grater. If you’re more serious than that, the microplane website offers a three piece set of zesters and graters for under $35. The key advantage of that set is a variety of coarseness, something I’ve wished for on occasion. I’d like my chocolate and parmesan to be a bit coarser and my nutmeg to be finer.
The Microplane takes up about the same space as a long wooden spoon. The only thing I don’t love about the Microplane is the bulky handle, which makes for an easy grip but does make it harder to store than if it was shaped more like a ruler. It cleans like a dream; I regularly put it in the dishwasher. When I wash it by hand, the curved back presents no problem, I simply push the corner of a cloth or sponge in and in two passes, it sparkles. If you’ve ever cleaned a grater before (especially a box grater) you’ll love the Microplane’s ease of cleaning.