Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Must Have: Microplane Zester/Grater

I love kitchen gadgets and I have a top 10 list of gadgets that I don't ever want to be without. My Microplane zester is close to the top of that list.

There are two kinds of people: those who use Microplane zesters and those who don't. Which ever category you fall into, keep reading because this post is for you. If you do own a Microplane zester and have used it, you probably love it like I do. If you received one as a gift and you haven't used it, read on. If you don't own a Microplane zester, let me share with you how this kitchen gadget can change your life (OK, maybe not your LIFE, but it will change how you cook or bake). First, here is a list of a few things that can be zested:
  • fruits (lemons, oranges, limes)
  • spices (whole nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • chocolate bars (white, milk, dark)
  • cheese, ginger, onions, garlic, etc.

I use my zester almost every time I bake. I use it for cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, fillings, curds, muffins, biscuits, quick breads, garnish, toppings, ice cream, pies, fruit fillings and frosting.

There is no comparison between freshly grated nutmeg and ground nutmeg you buy from the store. The smell is heavenly!

Zesters are available in a few sizes--I have found that this size works for all my needs. There are smaller Microplane graters that are advertised specifically for grating spices, but I find that the one I have works great for nutmeg, so I haven't purchased an additional one. It works fabulous on chocolate bars, for a nice garnish over whipped cream on a dessert.

Lemons are the number one ingredient that I use my Microplane zester for in many of my recipes. I use a lot of egg whites for several desserts on my menu and this leaves many egg yolks left over. The best thing to use the leftover egg yolks is to make them into lemon curd. This is a great recipe from one of my favorite books on lemon desserts.

Lemon Curd
Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks

1) Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
2) Remove pan from heat and whisk in sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt. Whisk in the yolks until smooth.
3) Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and leaves a path on the back of a wooden spoon when a finger is drawn across it; do not allow the mixture to boil.
4) Immediately pour the Lemon Curd through a strainer into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.
*Lemon Curd keeps for a month in the refrigerator and about 3 months in the freezer.

Lemon-Orange Curd: (Jillicious variation)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • add 1 Tbsp. of orange zest + 3 Tbsp. of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice + 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt (kosher salt)
  • 7 large egg yolks

Prepare using the directions above. (I use less butter, because I like my curd to be a little more tart and the lemon-orange flavor is stronger without it).


  1. I keep postponing this buy, even though everybody tells me it works magic.
    Don't kill me, but what's the difference between this and the tiny side of a sided cheese grater?

    Love the first picture!

  2. A Microplane zester/grater actually zests or grates things more fine than even the tiny side of the cheese grater--trust me, once you get one of these, you'll never go back. :)

  3. I used to put off buying a microplane and finally one day I gave in. Totally worth the $10 I paid, especially considering the crappy little grater I was using to zest before. DON'T USE A GRATER TO ZEST! It's not sharp enough and will completely destroy the zest. Plus it takes FOREVER. With a microplane it's just zip, zip, zip and you're done.

  4. This does look pretty cool. If I *ever* buy a place I will need to take you shopping with me so that you can pick out all the kitchen stuff I need.

  5. Anna: Thanks for your comment! :) You summed it up perfectly "zip, zip,zip and you're done".

    Jeff: That would be so great! I love shopping with other people's money. :)

  6. Oh, I totally agree. I finally got one just a few weeks ago after using the side of my old box grater for years. I'm zesting everything in sight and loving it! : )

  7. I just really like the name...ZESTER! Any with a name that cool is tops on my list! Of course, you just had to lemonize everything!

  8. I could not LIVE without my microplane zester (although I did live prior to it's Your curds sound yummy, especially the lemon-orange.

    On another note, your link never seems to work from my site, so I always have to type your blog name into my search engine to get here. Weird! I use it as you type it ..

    ... but I always get a page not available dealypoo (???)

  9. I stopped by to leave a comment on your daring bakers challenge, but it's not up yet.
    So, I'll just let you know that it looked really cute on the forums!

    and the microplane is one of my most favorite tools. I love it for ginger and garlic.