As we focus on restocking the pantry and making sure we have adequate kitchen tools, this question from Rachel is very timely.
I really love your site, and I've been inspired to use more fresh food in my cooking. I decided it would be cool to buy whole spices and grate my own, as I use nutmeg in practically everything! So then I figured I needed a Microplane grater, and was astounded when I went to buy one and realised there's a hundred different sorts for different things. OK, maybe not a hundred, but there were ones for zest, ones for spices, ones for cheese, ones for chocolate. My head almost exploded. Do I really need a different one for different things?
They weren't cheap, around AUS$50, so I don't really want to have to buy 3 or 4 of them. I didn't think it would be this hard!!
Welcome to the world of specialized kitchen tools, Rachel! Yes, Microplane has really diversified its line of graters lately, but we find that we only use one or two with any regularity. They make fabulous graters, though; I really do recommend them over a generic lemon zester or grater.
If you want a grater just for nutmeg and other spices, then Microplane's spice grater does work very well. I have it and until I received a dedicated nutmeg grater (love!!) I used this nearly every day. It works equally well for nutmeg and cinnamon.
• Spice Grater, $9.95 US at Microplane
This is a small, curved grater, though, and it really doesn't work as well for citrus zest or cheese — the other two things that I use my Microplane for most frequently. If you want a truly dedicated nutmeg grater, there is also the Grate-N-Shake (pictured above).
• Grate-N-Shake, $9.95 US at Microplane
Both of those tools, though, are more single-use and specialized. If I had to choose just one Microplane, I would choose the original fine rasp grater. This is almost never put away in the drawer in my kitchen; it's in use or in the sink. I use it for lemon zest and hard cheeses daily. It grates a little rough for nutmeg, but it would do.
• Zester/Grater, $12.95 US at Microplane
One last suggestion: the all-in-one box grater. Microplane released a box grater that has several popular grating surfaces in one. It is bulkier and takes up more room, of course, but if you want an all-in-one grater this might be a good option. You can see what our readers say about it in the post below.
Readers? More advice for Rachel...?
Related: Wanting: Peugeot Nutmeg Mill
(Images: Williams-Sonoma and Cook's Warehouse)