How To: Use Your Grater on These 10 Foods for Easier, Better Cooking

Use Your Grater on These 10 Foods for Easier, Better Cooking

Your grater and microplane may look like single-purpose tools, but they're actually one of the most diverse appliances in your kitchen. Sure, everyone knows to use a grater on cheese and a microplane on citrus zest, but why stop there? Here are 10 things you may not have thought to grate:

1. Butter

The secret to a great pie crust? Grated butter. Grating allows you to get the butter into small pieces, which equals a better pie crust. Why? Because pie crust shouldn't be handled too much—overworking the dough produces too much gluten, which makes the dough tough instead of tender.

It's also the perfect way to butter your toast without tearing it.

Image via Linzers in London

2. Fruits & Veggies

A grater is the ultimate tool for getting zucchinis and carrots ready for cakes and breads, and it also works wonders for salads, stir-fries, and slaws. It's also a lot faster to grate said vegetables than to try and cut them in similarly small, even pieces by hand.

Sauteed and shredded summer vegetables. Image by Ellen Silverman/Oprah

3. Chocolate

Want to up your dessert game? Keep a small block of chocolate in the freezer, then use a microplane for the most luxurious garnish for ice creams, hot chocolate, and cake. Case in point? This peanut butter cake topped with chocolate curls from Goods by K Creative.

Image via Goods by K Creative

4. Spices

While nutmeg is a fairly well-known ingredient for a microplane, almost any spice benefits from being finely grated. My personal favorite is a cinnamon stick, which has a much stronger and spicier flavor when freshly grated than ground cinnamon does.

Image via Indo Cinnamon

5. Steak

Wait... what? I may be the only person in the world who does this, but trust me, it works. If you want to get paper-thin slices for the ultimate Philly cheesesteak, just freeze a steak, and then run it through the cheese-slicer portion of your grater. You'll get incredibly thin slices of steak that will cook up in seconds.

Image by Asbjorn Sorensen Poulsen/Flickr

6. Charcoal

Charcoal isn't just for the BBQ. It's adds an instant smoky element to a dish when microplaned. Just make sure that you use all-natural edible charcoal.

Image by Brady Klopfer/Food Hacks

Alternately, if you want the smoky flavor of charcoal but with added texture, you can burn toast until it's black, and then run it over a grater for some smoke-filled crunchy bits.

Image via Elite Readers

7. Charred/Burned Foods

Speaking of burned food, a grater comes in handy when you've burned muffins, cookies, other baked goods, or—yes—toast, and need a way to get the blackened bits or bottoms off. It's actually easier to do it this way than to use a knife, which takes more effort and is less precise.

(1) Burned cookies before... (2) And after. Images via Brenda's Downtown Dish

8. Potatoes

Introduce your grater to a bag of potatoes and your breakfasts will never be the same again. Three words: instant hash browns.

Image via Sarah Browne's Kitchen Garden

9. Aromatics

Ginger, garlic, shallots, red onions, and celery are all things that we regularly take knives to. Run them through a microplane instead, and you'll get a perfectly smooth product that gives any sauce a wonderfully rich and even consistency.

Freeze your ginger before you grate to get an even finer texture. Image by kidmissile/Flickr

10. Frozen Fruit

This is my favorite, and my personal trick when entertaining. Grate frozen fruit over the top of a cocktail; the texture will be similar to small ice chips, and the flavor will be strong. I've never seen this done before so it may be frowned upon by bartenders, but it sure tastes good!

Image by Pawel Pacholec/Flickr

Are there any unique foods that you love to grate?

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