I’m not quite sure how humankind got along before Microplane graters. Their sharp grating power makes quick, easy work of zesting citrus. It used to be that when a recipe called for zest, I was at a bit of a loss. I avoided zesting whenever possible, which meant I missed a lot of flavor (it is called “zest,” after all).
Then Microplane came on my scene, and now I get a little excited whenever I get to reach for my grater.
Zesting is all about taking the very outermost layer of colorful, flavorful, essential-oil-filled peel off of a citrus fruit. You don’t want to go deeper than this layer, into the pith, because there it’s bitter and good for nothing. Unless you are my brother Tom, or his god daughter, each of whom will eat a lemon almost in its entirety, including the white pith all the way out to the peel, and go back for another when they’ve completed the job.
Microplane graters are available at most kitchen shops and online for anywhere from $10 to $30. The flat grater is the one I have, and I like its versatility for both zest and parmesan cheese. The rasp grater is great too, long and narrow and perfect for zesting.
One word to the wise when it comes to these graters: watch your knuckles. It’s easy to get carried away and before you know it you are grating not just the citrus, but your hand. I have the scars to prove that it ain’t pretty.
This week we are making something super delicious and beautiful with citrus for a special celebration like Easter, and this delight requires the zest of three lemons (no skimping). So get your grater on!