How to Use a Grater

grater with cheese
Photo: iStock
The shaved-down truth on this household tool.

How to Grate
For best results, use a simple up-and-down motion and hold the food at an angle. It'll be easier to press into the grater, and you'll produce a better shred when the food hits the holes at a right angle. The food should be sliced off on the downward motion.

Patterned Holes
Use this side when you need a dusting of cinnamon or powder from a solid chunk of chocolate.

Single Slit
Creates a large shard that's often used for garnish. It's used for firmer food that can take the pressure, such as a carrot, Parmesan cheese, or chocolate.

Small Holes
The tiny round openings are used for making citrus zest, grating ginger root, or shredding hard cheeses such as Parmesan or Romano.

Big Holes
For shredding semisoft cheeses like mozzarella. Also used for onion or hard veggies like potatoes.

Grate, Uh, Great Tips
Grate the food onto a large cutting board and use a metal bench scraper (the kind pastry chefs use to clean their chopping blocks) to transfer it to the mixing bowl.

To keep from turning your digits into shredded meat, try working with a sewing thimble on your thumbs. Some graters even come with built-in finger protectors.

Lemon zest perks up many recipes, but half the bright bits usually get stuck in the grater. Never lose a shred again with this trick: Put a piece of wax or parchment paper on the grater. Then, scrape the lemon right on the paper (over the holes) as if you were making a rubbing (like when you were a kid).

Cleaning Made Easy

  • By machine Place dishwasher-safe graters on the bottom rack standing up so that water and soap clean the inside.
  • By hand Run a soapy sponge either up or across the holes. Don't go down -- sponge particles will stick in the grooves.