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A grater is a kitchen tool that has a surface with holes that have raised edges to cut, grate, slice, or shred food. A grater with different-sized holes can also be used to:
- Make your own breadcrumbs
- Chop onions and garlic
- Grate butter to make flakey pastries
- Make cauliflower rice
A grater is usually made out of metal but can come in ceramic, plastic, and wood variations. While there are different types of graters available on the market, the most popular type is the box grater. This grater can cost anywhere from $5 to $50 because each side of the kitchen tool is a different size and has its own specific uses.
This tool can be used to repurpose old soap, prepare tomatoes for homemade tomato puree, and shred vegetables for salads. Aside from being used for cheese, a grater can be for the following food:
The grater can be used to make breadcrumbs. It is best to use bread that is 1 day to 2 days old so that it is dry enough to be ground into crumbs. After making sure that your breadcrumbs are dry, use the side of your box grater with small holes to slowly grate your bread.
If you are going to use fresh bread, freeze the bread slices for 3 hours to 5 hours before grating. After grating your bread into crumbs, spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for 15 minutes to 30 minutes at 250°F (121°C).
A grater is also a great tool for making chocolate toppings. If you are baking desserts that require chocolate shavings, you can make your own. Bring the chocolate you are going to use to room temperature, and use a Microplane to dust your dessert with finely grated chocolate. If you have a box or handheld grater, the chocolate will become more ribbon-like.
Use the grater to make your own tomato purée. To prepare your tomato, thinly slice off the bottom. Place your grater over a bowl and using the side of the box grater with the largest holes, grate your tomato until the skin and stem are left.
Add salt into your tomato purée and heat up oil in a skillet on Medium heat. Add your garlic into the skillet and cook for around 3 minutes. Add your rosemary for about a minute, reduce the stove’s heat to Medium-low and pour in your tomato puree. Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
An alternative way to use a grater is to shred vegetables for any salad. After thoroughly washing your vegetables, use a peeler to remove their skin if needed. Either use a hand grater or the large holes on your box grater to shred your vegetables.
For more fine shreds, use the Microplane or the side of the box grater with the smallest holes.
A grater is a kitchen tool that can be used to make flakey pastries. For flakey pie crusts, apple turnovers, or biscuits, grated butter can make that happen. Place your pound of butter in the freezer for 6 hours to 7 hours before baking. To make desserts flakey, simply grate your stick of butter using the coarse side of the box grater and measure out how much butter is outlined in the recipe you are following. These small flakes of butter will release puffs of steam and lead to flakey pastries.
If the recipe calls for softened butter, grated butter will come down to room temperature faster. After grating your butter, measure it out and let it sit in a mixing bowl for 5 minutes to 10 minutes, or use a microwave to speed up the process.
Another superfood that can be grated is ginger. Select your fresh ginger root and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes if it is too soft. This will make the ginger easier to grate. Peel your ginger using a paring knife or spoon. Using your Microplane, box, or ginger grater, move the ginger root against the perforated surface. Scrape off the ginger shreds on the back of the grater you are using.
Use the grated ginger right away or transfer the ginger into a freezer-safe bag. Use the frozen ginger within 6 months of grating and let it thaw at room temperature for 1 hour to 2 hours before use.
A grater can also be used to grind nutmeg seeds. Crack the shell of your whole nutmeg using the flat edge of a kitchen knife and pressing it against the cutting board. Peel off the nutmeg’s shell to remove the seeds. Using a Microplane or the zesting side of your box grater, hold the kitchen tool at a 45° angle and slide the nutmeg seed along the grater.
Grate what you need and store excess ground nutmeg in an airtight container. Store your ground nutmeg in a cool, dark place and use it within 6 months.
Potatoes are another type of food that can be grated for cooking. To make hash browns, wash and peel your potatoes. Use the side of your box grater with the largest holes to shred your potatoes. Place your grated potato into a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
Heat up oil in a skillet or non-stick pan on Medium-high heat. Add your shredded potato into the pan when the oil is simmering and season with salt and pepper. Press potato with a spatula and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and place your hashbrown on a towel-lined plate before letting it drain before serving.
Also, the grater can be used to zest citrus fruits. To zest oranges, lemons, and limes, prepare the fruit by thoroughly washing them. Use a Microplane, citrus zester, or the side of your box grater with the small poles to grate your fresh fruit. Move the citrus fruit along the grater until the pith remains. Use immediately or place in a freezer-safe bag and use within 6 months.
Shred old soap with your grater to repurpose it. Gathering your scraps of old soap, use the coarse side of your box grater to shred the soaps. Place your soap shreds into a heat-safe bowl while heating up a saucepan with water on Medium-high heat. Place the bowl on top of your saucepan and let the water heat up.
Add water into your bowl with soap scraps to soften it and stir your soap with a spatula or wooden spoon every 5 minutes. Old soap will have a grainy texture for about an hour. After the soap has a similar consistency to mashed potatoes, let it cool down to 150° F to 160°F (65°C to 71°C). Mix in your preferred essential oil, soap-making dye, botanicals, and exfoliants.
Spray your soap-making mold with non-stick cooking oil and scoop your soap into the mold with a wooden spoon or spatula. After all of the molds have been filled, drop your soap mold onto the counter a few times to release any air bubbles trapped in the mixture. Let the soap sit in the mold for 1 day to 2 days before removing it from the mold. Alternatively, you can place your mold into the freezer for 1 hour to 2 hours before removing the soap from it.
The grater can also be used to make salad toppings. For salads that need to be topped with berries, freeze berries for 30 minutes to an hour. Afterward, use a Microplane to top off your salads. Grated frozen berries are also a great topping for cocktails.
Use a Microplane or rasp grater to make charcoal salt. Using hardwood charcoal that has not been chemically treated, grate 1 tablespoon of charcoal into a bowl. Use the Microplane or side of your box grater with the small holes to grate the rind of a whole lemon. Add 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, and ⅛ to ¼ teaspoons of chili flakes into the bowl. Salt your meat or vegetables before cooking or add as a finishing salt to pasta, pizza, or potatoes. Store in an airtight container and use within 6 weeks to 8 weeks.
Another spice that can be grated is cinnamon. If you would like a medium-fine texture, use a box grater to grate your cinnamon sticks then spice food as needed. A Microplane will give your finely ground cinnamon which is best for dusting or sprinkling cinnamon as garnish. You may also use a spice grater which is specifically designed for tough spices like cinnamon sticks.
Lemongrass can be grated with a Microplane or rasp zester. To prepare your lemongrass, cut off the leaves and peel the outer layers of the stalk until you reach the plant’s white core. Grate the lemongrass stalk using the small holes of your box grater, a Microplane, or rasp grater. Use lemongrass in a marinade or store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Onions and Garlic
An alternative way to use a grater is to use the tool to mince aromatics like onions or garlic. Peel off the skin of your garlic or onions and run it up and down your Microplane. The side of your box grater with small holes, a grater plate, or a garlic grater can also be used to mince onions and garlic.
Also, the grater can be used to make desiccated coconut. After choosing a coconut free of cracks, puncture the eyes of the coconut and drain the coconut water into a bowl. Using the back of a heavy knife, rotate the coconut and hit it until the coconut cracks open. Remove the meat from the coconut’s brown skin and chop the coconut into smaller chunks. Use a coconut grater or the shredder side of your box grater to shred your coconut meat.
Place the shredded coconut on a baking sheet in a single layer and let this dry in the oven at 140°F (60°C) for 1 hour. If you are going to use a dehydrator, dry your coconut shreds at 105°F (41°C) for 4 hours to 5 hours. Check on your coconut halfway.
To sweeten your desiccated coconut, combine ¼ cups of water and 4 teaspoons of sugar into a saucepan. Combine until the mixture become a syrup and stir in your coconut shreds. Spread the coconut onto a baking sheet and let it cool to room temperature. Store your desiccated coconut in an airtight container at room temperature and use it within 6 months.
Hard-boiled eggs can be grated for egg salad or as a topping. Fill a saucepan ¼ full with water and place your eggs into it. Add more water so that the eggs are submerged by 1 inch to 2 inches of water. Leaving the saucepan uncovered, bring the water to a boil using High heat. This may take 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Strain your eggs and run them under cold water.
Peel your eggs and let them cool. Grab your Microplane or box grater and grate your eggs into large shreds for salad and finer shreds as a topping for avocado toast.
Grate frozen bananas for non-dairy ice cream. Peel your ripe bananas and place them in an airtight container. Let the bananas freeze for at least 2 hours if you are short on time and overnight if you can. Use the shredder side of your box grater to shred the bananas into long strands. Transfer your frozen banana shreds into a food processor or blender.
It will look crumbly, then become gooey. Afterward, the bananas will look more like oatmeal before it has a soft-serve-like texture. Add in your chocolate chips or nuts and gently fold into the banana ice cream. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container until solid.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a grater?
When you are learning how to use a grater for the use cases above, avoid the following mistakes:
- Using the wrong grater. Not all graters are meant for the same type of food. As seen by the use cases above, there is more than one type of grater and some are better suited for root vegetables or spices.
- Using the wrong side of the box grater. Similar to the previous mistake, the different sides of a box grater have specific functions. The coarse grating side is best for slicing vegetables thinly, smaller shredding holes allow you to finely grate chocolate, you and shred cheese on one side, and zest fruit with the other.
- Grating food that is too soft. When food is too soft, it will not grate well. For food like chocolate, bananas, or cheese, it is best to freeze these ingredients before grating them.
- Not using your palms. When you use your fingertips to grate food for the use cases above, you can accidentally slice the skin of your knuckles or grate part of your nail. For smaller pieces of garlic or onions, use the palm of your hand to grate the aromatics.
- Using a dull grater. When you use a dull grater, you apply more pressure to the food you are grating and are more likely to injure yourself. To avoid danger and inefficiency, replace your grater annually if you grate food often.
- Not cleaning your grater. It is harder to properly clean your grater when you have left bits of food in it after use. It is a good practice to rinse and scrub your grater right after use.
- Forgetting to scrape down your grater. It is also common practice to only use what has been grated into a bowl. Scrape down the back or inside of your grater to make the most out of the ingredients you have minced, shredded, or zested.
- Not using cooking spray when needed. For food like cheese, it will soften at room temperature and stick to the grater. To avoid wasting any cheese shreds, coat your grater with a thin layer of non-stick cooking oil and easily scrape down your grater after using it.
Avoid these common to take care of yourself as well as your grater and use the kitchen tool properly for the use cases above.
What is the history of usage of grater?
So, what is a grater and where did it come from? The grater, or shredder, was invented in France in the 1940s. Francois Boullier made the first grater out of pewter to grate hard cheese that was due to the overabundance of cheese in the market. This turned hard and possibly dried cheese into a condiment up to the early 1550s. After being hit by drought, Europe experienced a depletion in dairy stocks which is by cheese and graters became lost their appeal in 1580.
However, the grater was re-introduced in the 1920s. An entrepreneur from Philadelphia named Jeffrey Taylor made his own version of Boullier’s grater to help homemakers make their food look appetizing despite tight budgets due to the Great Depression. Taylor took a metal shower drain and sharpened its holes. This invention helped make meals look “greater” and has paved the way for the different graters on the market today.
Do the use cases of a grater change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a grater change based on the type of grater purchased. A hand grater is light and best for grating ingredients over a dish. A Microplane or rasp grater is a variation of the hand grater which is used to zest or finely grate ingredients with a single plane.
To only grate different types of cheese, you should purchase a cheese grater that will shred cheese with one swipe across its surface. Also, there are citrus zesters that effectively grate peels without grating the pith of citrus fruit. Spice graters are available and can be used to grind spices. For ginger, use a ginger grater that has raised edges to shred ginger into pulp.
There are box graters has sharpened perforations on four different sides and can be used to slice, shred, finely grate, or zest food. A mandoline is a type of grater used to slice, grate, shred, and julienne food uniformly. Rotary graters have a barrel-shaped body and steel blades that will rotate and grate different types of food. Electric graters are available for those looking for a hassle-free grater.
Which grater is best for blending garlic?
A Microplane or rasp grater is the best grater for blending garlic. This type of grater will allow you to grate garlic into fine pieces and allow garlic to blend into soup, sauce, and dip easily.
Does a food processor have more use cases than a grater?
Yes, if you look are wondering who wins the food processor vs. grater debate, a food processor has more use cases than a grater. While both kitchen tools can be used to shred, slice, grind and grate solid ingredients into smaller pieces, a food processor can be used to blend, churn, mix, and puree both liquid and solid food.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a grater?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to graters include:
- Vegetable Peeler: This kitchen tool is used to remove fruit and vegetable skin with a steel blade.
- Knives: A knife is a blade with a handle used to slice, mince, and chop food.
- Food processor: A food processor uses a bowl-like body connected to an electricity source to chop, grate, mince, blend, and puree liquids and solids.
- Blender: This kitchen appliance is used to pulverize dry food and combine wet food.
- Coffee grinder: This appliance uses different settings to coarsely grind coffee but can be used for nuts, spices, and herbs.
You can use these kitchen appliances to prepare ingredients in a similar way that a grater is used, but read about the 5 unique uses of these 5 tools here.