Product Review: Graters

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  Tasks and Qualities
Grater Types
Box graters
Rasp and Paddle graters
Rotary graters
Grated material: volume vs weight
Sharpness
Recommended Products
Box Graters
Oxo
KitchenAid KG300
Microplane 34006
Cuisipro Accutec
Rasp, Paddle, & Flat graters
Microplane Classic / Premium Series
Anolon paddle
Progressive folding grater
Cuisipro rasp
Cuisipro flat
Rotary graters
Pedrini
Cuisipro Accutec
Specialty graters
Paderno ginger
Broadway Panhandler ginger
Ceramic ginger graters
Williams-Sonoma ginger
Kyocera ginger
Microplane spice
Alessi Todo
Manufacturers Links

Unless you're making mass quantities of food that require grated ingredients — gallons of cole slaw for the annual block party, or dozens of latkes for the Hanukkah bazaar, in which case you'll head for the food processor — you'll get better results grating your ingredients by hand.

Tasks and Qualities

The tasks performed most commonly by manual graters are:

  • extra-coarse grating of cabbage, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables, fruits, and soft cheeses (like mozzarella)
  • coarse grating of vegetables and fruits, harder cheeses (like Gruyere), chocolate, coconut, and ginger
  • medium grating for all the above and below
  • fine grating, often used for foods with significant water content such as onions, garlic, and ginger, to produce a puree-like consistency; or for drier foods such as nutmeg, cinnamon and other hard whole spices and nuts, to produce more of a powdery grind. Fine grating is also used for food with medium water content to produce zests (citrus rinds), and thin shavings of Parmesan and other hard cheeses.

 

 

Many box graters also have a side for shaving/julienne slicing; this won't take the place of a mandoline or dedicated slicer for heavy duty slicing tasks, but it can be a useful feature.

Beyond the coarseness grade, three desirable qualities constitute the best class of graters. Sharp grating edges that stay sharp over time are crucial. A comfortable handle, combined with a structural design that provides enough stability so that you can apply significant pressure, allows easier grating of larger, otherwise harder-to-grate ingredients. A well-proportioned grating surface will make the tool easier to use, even with irregularly shaped food and small pieces, such as radishes and nutmeg cloves, which require fingertip precision. Also, a well-designed tool will be safer to use, as it's easier to avoid scraping your knuckles on a slightly convex surface, as opposed to a flat or concave surface.

With the exception of a few porcelain ginger graters, the work surfaces of graters are usually made of stainless steel. Some manufacturers specify the grade of steel they use to make their tools, with a fraction that represents the percentages of chromium and nickel in the steel alloy 18/10 and 18/8. Generally, stainless steel is more corrosion-resistant than other metals, and the difference between the use of stainless steel and ordinary steel in kitchenware is significant. Far less important are the slight differences between the various types of stainless steel in this context. Also, the particular grade of steel is not as meaningful a determinant of how the grater will perform than is the tool's design and construction. Additionally, we've found that the country of manufacture is not a reliable indicator of grater quality. Microplane graters, which we recommend enthusiastically, are made in the US, Khun Rikon in Switzerland, Pedrini in Italy, and most others, including Cuisipro, a quality line of graters, are made in China.

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Grater Types

All but a specialized few of the manual food graters used in home kitchens today can be put into one of the following four categories:

  • Box graters are hollow, multi-sided boxes , usually with three, four or six sides, each with a different grating configuration. They have a handle at the top, and are usually open at the bottom so that the grated food collects on a plate or other work surface, though sometimes they have a closed food compartment at the base that catches the gratings.
  • Rasp and paddle graters usually have a straight handle resembling the handle on a woodworker's file, and one or two different grating surfaces.
  • A flat grater is a rectangular grating surface, sometimes with more than one set of teeth, mounted on a metal frame typically 11" long and between 4"—5" wide. These are often used to grate ingredients into a bowl, upon which the grater rests horizontally.
  • Rotary graters are usually two-piece units with cranks that turn a removable cylindrical grating drum. Ingredients are placed in a hopper with a cover that's pushed down to apply constant pressure to the ingredients as they are grated. Your waiter, who offers you fresh grated Parmesan at your table, may be using a rotary grater, already loaded with the cheese to be grated.
Box grater Rasp grater Flat grater Rotary grater

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Box graters

For generations, the box grater has been the workhorse in this category. Variations include a six-sided model, which allows for another coarseness grade and julienne slicing; a three-sided pyramid, which isn't quite as steady or as comfortable as the rectangular version; and a conical model with a round base that is even less stable. Most box graters are stainless steel, and dishwasher-safe. Handle styles differ by model; some more comfortable than others. Generally, we prefer a contoured, soft-grip handle rather than a flat, narrow metal handle. Some box graters have non-skid rubber bases, some have detachable plastic storage containers, or measuring compartments, on the bottom. With or without a food compartment, the box grater is designed to be used on a solid work surface, held vertically, with pressure applied downward toward the base while the food is moved over the grating surface. For situations better served by a less sationary approach, the more portable rasps and paddles are advantageous. Another drawback to box graters is that they are bulky and require relatively more storage space than other grater types.

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Rasp and Paddle graters

Those of us who were used to box graters remember how surprisingly effortless it was when we first used a Microplane grater. Originally invented in 1990 as a woodworking tool, and introduced in 1994 in a version for the kitchen, Microplane rasp graters, now available in over two dozen versions, are the most popular food graters today. Their cutting surfaces are as sharp as those of any food graters, they are well designed with comfortable handles, and they're available in a wide selection of models, covering most grating applications. The success of the Microplane line has inspired other manufacturers to offer food graters in woodworker-tool-style rasp format, and there are many very good models to choose from. As opposed to a box grater, the rasp doesn't have a built-in base, and its grating surface is thinner and longer than those on a box. The rasp is not as suitable for heavier grating tasks with large pieces of food. Because most rasp graters have only a single grating-tooth configuration (though some have two), boxes get the nod for multi-pupose use.

Paddle graters are similar to rasps, but usually have shorter and wider grating surfaces, making them well-suited to shaving cheese and chocolate. Paddles and rasps can be used either by holding the grater vertically or at a slight angle, resting the end on a work surface to steady the tool, and moving the food over the grating face, or by holding the grater aloft, as you would to add grated ingredients directly to a pot or to garnish a plate. To facilitate the former of these methods, the bottom end of most paddle graters has non-skid rubber mounted to its frame to keep it from sliding during use. Finally, rasp and paddles are easier to store than box graters, and they often come with a re-usable plastic cover that protects the grating surface when not in use.

Flat graters, which occupy the least amount of storage space, bridge the gap between box and rasp graters. They are basically one side of a box grater, with one or two sets of grating teeth, attached to a metal frame, one end of which is used as a handle. The frame allows the grater to rest on, and drop its gratings into, a bowl. Extension graters are flat graters with a telescoping wire handle that can be adjusted to fit over different size bowls.

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Rotary graters

Rotary graters are used less frequently during cooking and baking than are boxes and rasps. The enclosed hopper usually doesn't hold more than one or two ounces of food, and the work is slow. But the rotary grater has praises worth singing. It's portable, and since the food—usually hard or semi-hard cheese—is enclosed and remains untouched during grating, it's an appropriate tool for the dinner table. The food is protected from the users' fingers, and fingers are protected from the sharp grating surface. Cleaning these tools by hand can be more time-consuming than other graters you needn't disassemble, but the models we recommend are dishwasher-safe.

In addition to the four grater types described above, there are specialty tools designed for particular applications, which we include in our individual recommendations, below.

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Grated material: volume vs. weight

The volume of the grated food varies among models. Particularly, the Microplane and Cuisipro rasp graters produce very light, relatively long, fluffy curls that take up more space than shorter, heavier, solid shards. If you were to grate a quarter-pound of solid 72% cacao chocolate using the fine teeth on a box grater and another quarter-pound using a fine rasp grater, you'd likely have one yield measuring two-thirds of a cup and the other a full cup or more. Most recipes give quantities in volume as opposed to weight. If a particular grater is not specified, a good rule of thumb is to increase the volume by half of an airy, fluffy, grated yield.

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Sharpness

Be aware that the grating surfaces on many of today's graters are razor sharp. The reason for this is a technology that helped Microplane to raise grater standards in the 1990's, and which Cuisipro and other manufacturers have since adopted. With conventional technology, still widely used, grating surfaces are made from stamped metal, with cutting edges formed by machine-punching holes into a flat or curved surface. The newer technology uses a chemical process whereby which acid acts on a stainless steel surface, onto which a photographic image has been printed, etching the cutting pattern into the surface. The edges created by this stencil-aided, controlled, corrosive process are "cleaner" than the ragged ones created by punching through the metal; the tools are sharper and they maintain their sharpness longer. Food passes easily and smoothly over the grating surface, instead of having to be dragged over dull edges, which tears the food, producing ragged, inconsistent results.

Some box graters come with a "knuckle protecting" attachment that holds the food and slides along the grating surface, maintaining distance between fingers and sharp edges. They offer a small measure of safety at the expense of being somewhat cumbersome.

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kitchenCritical Recommends:

Our recommended models are listed in order of ascending price within each category.

Box Graters

This is a good, four-sided grater that has a slicer and a super-fine surface among its grating surfaces. While its slim design resembles the Cuisipro Accutec, it also has a soft-grip handle in the Good Grips line tradition, and a non-slip rubber ring at the base that keeps the grater in place on a work surface. Plastic storage compartments that attach to the bottom of the box have become popular, and the one on the Oxo box grater works well for catching, measuring, and storing freshly grated ingredients.

 

 

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This stable, four-sided grater has a comfortable handle and the right degree of curve on the grating surfaces to keep the Band-Aids in the medicine cabinet. It comes with a plastic container/base on which the grater can sit as you work, allowing the grated material to drop conveniently into the container. The container has markings to indicate amounts, and a lid to store surplus material. The KitchenAid box grater is available in almond, blue, empire red, green, yellow, black, white and gray.

 

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In 1994, Microplane revolutionized the food grater with the introduction of its super-sharp, photo-etched rasp grater. It followed the rasp with an expanded line of graters encompassing various types, including a two-sided box grater that was reasonably well-received, but never got the raves the original rasps received. Microplane recently replaced the box with a four-sided box grater that features ultra-course, fine, medium-ribbon, and slicer sides attached to a heavy wire frame with rubber feet and an ergonomic soft-grip handle. The new version is slightly bulkier than the old, but otherwise a noticeable improvement.

 

 

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Cuisipro is another kitchen gear maker known for the acid-etched tools pioneered by Microplane. The company has an extensive line of top-notch "Accutec"food graters, all of which carry the company's 25-year warrantee. Cuisipro used to make three different box graters; now it offers one, and it’s a high-performer. The Accutec box grater has three razor-sharp grating surfaces — ultra-course, course, and fine — in a slim design that makes it easier to store than other box models. The large, curved, tube handle fits nicely in the hand, and provides a sturdy surface on which to exert pressure. Though relatively expensive, the Accutec is our favorite box grater. Cooks Illustrated recently demoted this model from it’s #1 pick to #3 because it did not stand up well to repeated dishwasher cycles. We put ours in the dishwasher occasionally, but not after every use. We’ve used it several times a week for four years, and you'd have to rip it out of our hands before we’d switch to another box grater.

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Rasp, paddle and flat graters

Since the game-changing introduction of its first rasp food grater in 1994, Microplane has developed several lines of graters that have helped the brand keep its #1, go-to status for fifteen years.

Microplane's four lines of straight-handled graters are more easily thought of as two lines: a rasp line with two handle choices, and a paddle-style line with two handle choices. Microplane distinguishes between the handles by referring to them as "Classic" and "Premium". The Classic handle is plastic, and is available in black, red, or blue. The Premium handle is a soft-touch handle available in six different colors. Also, the Premium versions have non-scratch end tabs for resting the end of the rasp on a cutting board, bowl or plate while holding the rasp vertically.

The Microplane Classic (and Premium Classic) Series includes the company's original zester/grater and four new rasps: extra-coarse, medium ribbon, spice, and a no-handle version. Both Classic lines are available, in 3-piece sets (zester, medium ribbon, extra-coarse), for $35 and $40, respectively.

Microplane Classic series (3-pc set) Microplane Premium Classic series


 

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Microplane 45000 Gourmet Series
Price: $17—$25

These stainless steel paddle graters feature soft-touch handles, a non-slip rubber foot on the end, and are available in six different grating configurations: coarse, extra-coarse, ultra-coarse, medium ribbon, fine/spice, large shaver, small shaver, and sea salt shaver(!). Most are $17. Microplane sells a set of six (omitting the ultra-coarse grater and sea salt shaver) for $96. All graters come with a protective cover for safe storage.

 

 

 

 

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Microplane 38000 Pro series

The Professional series is essentially a version of the Gourmet series with curved stainless steel handles. Individual graters are available for about $17 each. The same six-piece grouping available in the Gourmet series is also available as a 38000 Professional set for $96; as with the Gourmet Series, the ultra-coarse grater and sea salt shaver are not included.

 

 

 

 

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With a fine-coarseness grating surface and a shaver slot, this good, basic grater is recommended for cheese, chocolate, ginger and other foods you want to render into fine shavings. It features a comfortable silicone rubber handle. You may notice racks of Anolon kitchen tools in supermarkes, hardware stores, drug stores, and department stores. It’s one of several brands, along with KitchenAid, Cirlculon, and Farberware, sold by the Meyer Corporation, the largest cookware distributor in the US.

 

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Progressive is a Seattle-based company that makes dozens of innovative and affordable kitchen products, many of which stand out for their storage-friendly collapsibility, as does this grater. It has coarse and fine grating surface set into a heavy-duty plastic frame with a large, soft-grip handle, and grooved, non-slip edges. It disassembles for easy cleaning, and folds flat for even easier storing.

 

 

 

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Cuisipro, which we recommended in the box grater category, has a large selection of rasp and paddle graters that receives positive feedback from consumers. Cuisipro is Microplane’s most formidable challenger in this category. Among the company's offerings are six rasps (all with handles) ranging from fine to extra coarse. Cuisipro also makes two, dual-graters in a handle-less rasp format, both with fine and coarse surfaces. One of the two models is "deluxe", and adds non-slip endcaps for vertical grating, and a sliding hand guard that doubles as a handle. Still, our personal preference is for the rasps with regular handles.

Cuisipro parmesan rasp Cuisipro Deluxe dual rasp
(sliding hand guard in middle)


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Cuisipro's flat (paddle) graters are stainless steel, with a non-slip sleeve on one end, and an optional hand guard ($6) that slides along the side rails, separating the user's hand from the grating surface. This line resembles Microplane's Professional Series. The Cuisipro flat graters are available in seven degrees of coarseness, including two shaver grades.

 

 

 

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Rotary graters

 

The Pedrini rotary grater is one of the few rotaries with a large hopper. While most rotary graters are made for right-handed operation, the Italian-designed handle and crank are switchable for right- or left-handed operation; the drums grate well in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The sharp drums are available in three different coarseness grades. Pedrini sells a version that comes with two drums —fine and coarse— for $25.

Cuisipro’s rotary grater comes with two drums, one for coarse grating for vegetables and medium/soft cheese, and a Parmesan blade for harder cheeses and chocolate. The Accutec grating surfaces are acid-etched and very sharp. The clear plastic housing has a non-slip grip and an extra-wide hopper.

Pedrini rotary grater Cuisipro Accutec rotary grater


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Specialty graters

Grating fibrous roots such as ginger and horseradish require specialty graters to do the job well. Regular graters are not well-suited to extracting the pulp (the ingredient you want) before having the tough, stringy fibers clog the tool.

If you grate a lot of ginger, consider one of the following four tools to improve your experience. Italian manufacturer Paderno makes a triangular, stainless steel ginger grater with a handle configuration similar to a rasp or paddle. Broadway Panhandler sells a similarly configured ginger grater, with alternating teeth, allowing for easier grating of fibrous, tougher foods. Both tools have a hinged, stainless steel plate that both isolates the grated pulp from the user's hand, and serves as a cover for a catchplate.

Paderno ginger grater Broadway Panhandler ginger/horseradish grater

 

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Ceramic ginger graters

Even better for ginger, in particular, are ceramic graters. Raised teeth in the middle of a small, shallow bowl or plate usually made of porcelain evenly grates the ginger, leaving the rough, stringy fibers in your hand to be discarded. A sharp steel grater would grate the fibers, making for a less consistent puree. Ceramic ginger graters are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, some for less than $10. Bizrate and Amazon feature a wide array.

We recommend the Williams-Sonoma and Kyocera models, both 3 1/2" and $15; the 6 1/2" Kyocera is $25. These bowl-style ginger graters conveniently catch the flavorful juice.

Williams-Sonoma ginger grater Kyocera CD-18 6.5" ginger grater

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There is a wide variety of small, inexpensive graters, typically aluminum, designed to grate small quantities of spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon. We prefer the Microplane Classic spice grater for its consistent results.

 

 

 

 

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Finally, we reach the museum piece among food graters, the Alessi Todo. It's an 18" cone-shaped stainless cheese and nutmeg grater with a pear wood handle, which works well enough to grate a full serving of cheese with one, complete stroke. It's beautiful enough to leave out in plain view—in fact, that's the point. Alessi sells ten different graters, each of which looks more like an exhibition piece than a standard kitchen tool.

 

 

 

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Manufacturers Links

The following links will take you to a grater page on a manufacturer's website when one exists. In other cases, the links will take you to a relevant web page.

Manufacturers of Recommended Models:

Alessi
Anolon
Broadway Panhandler
Cuisipro
KitchenAid
Kyocera
Microplane
Oxo
Paderno
Pedrini
Williams-Sonoma


 

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Updated: February 22, 2010